July 11, 2012

When gilded lives begin to shatter

By Liza Klaussmann
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People are bound to be drawn to a novel written by Herman Melville’s great-great-great-granddaughter. But while author Liza Klaussmann’s literary roots may initially attract some readers to Tigers in Red Weather, her literary abilities will keep them riveted.

Tigers in Red Weather is one of the most anticipated novels of the summer season, and rightly so. The prose is crisp, plot enticing and pacing masterful. Told from the points of view of five engaging characters whose names, privilege and circumstances can be compared to those in The Great Gatsby, the dialogue and storyline here are as compelling as the sense of promise cousins Nick (a female) and Helena feel at the novel’s start.

It’s September 1945. Nick and Helena have just spent another summer on Martha’s Vineyard, lounging in the sun and hosting harborside gin parties at Tiger House in Edgartown, the family home their grandfather designed. Love, however, is about to change their lives. Nick’s husband is returning home from war, and Helena is moving to California to marry an insurance salesman. But not all lives turned out as planned, and there’s often a fine line between love and loathing. In Tigers in Red Weather, self-loathing and a loathing of others (some justified, some not), lead to infidelity, cruelty, drug abuse and the slow, painful unraveling of Nick and Helena’s once-solid family. Matters come to a head when Nick and Helena’s teenaged children discover a Portuguese maid murdered on the beach near Tiger House—her skull cracked open and her neck black from being strangled. Who is responsible?

Spanning more than 20 years and two generations, Tigers in Red Weather is a richly crafted story in which the setting is as much a character as those who inhabit it. A longtime journalist for the New York Times and winner of Barnard College’s Howard M. Teichmann Prize for creative writing, Klaussmann has created an exquisite and evocative story of family secrets that leaves the reader exhausted, exhilarated and, in tiger fashion, roaring for more.

Read an interview with Liza Klaussmann for Tigers in Red Weather.

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Tigers in Red Weather

Tigers in Red Weather

By Liza Klaussmann
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780316211338

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