Written by the great-great-great granddaughter of literary genius Herman Melville, Tigers In Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann is a mystery drama that follows a prominent East Coast family through three decades of dysfunctional relationships, unearthed secrets, stinging betrayal, and eventually acceptance.
The novel takes its name from a line in the poem, Disillusionment at 10:00 by Wallace Stevens and opens at the end of WWII. Nick and Helena are cousins spending the summer together at Tiger House, the family home on Martha’s Vineyard. Nick is preparing to leave for Florida to rejoin her husband, Hughes, a serviceman returning from the war. Helena is also soon leaving, setting off for Hollywood to marry a promising producer.
As the years pass, each cousin has a child and the family expands. Nick and Hughes’ daughter, Daisy, grows into a stubborn, independent and free-spirited young woman. Helena’s son Ed, however, is quite different. He is a loner with a dark mind and a twisted heart.
Each year, the family members return to Tiger House for the summer season. While there, the painful frailties, flaws and fears of individual characters come to light, including those of Nick and Helena. Neither cousin finds life or marriage as promising or fulfilling as they expected, and the women must secretly find ways to cope with their bitter disappointment.
Tigers In Red Weather has many layers. This is partly because the book is divided into five sections, with each part being told from the viewpoint of a different character. This approach gives great insight into each person’s mindset and actions. But at the same time, this structure sometimes makes the story feel choppy and confusing.
The novel also has some interesting plot twists, especially involving Helena’s son, Ed, but it also has a certain predictability to it that depletes some of the excitement from the story.
As far as the historical fiction aspect of Tigers In Red Weather, it is strong, delving into three different decades with confidence and giving us glimpses into the Post WWII America of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.
Tigers In Red Weather, which was published in 2012, is the first novel for Liza Klaussmann. She wrote the book in London, where she lives and received a master’s degree in creative writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. Klaussmann was also a journalist for the New York Times for more than a decade.
Overall, Tigers in Red Weather delivers to its audience in a quiet, sleeper kind of way. It has enough “meat on its bones” to be a solid book club choice or to be an addition to your Kansas City Public Library Winter Reading Club booklist.
Copies are available at several library branches, so head to your nearest location and check out a copy of Tigers In Red Weather today.
About the Author
Amy Morris is a librarian technical assistant at the Westport Branch. She earned a B.A. in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, from Avila University. Besides reading and writing, Amy enjoys traveling, art, being creative, and spending time with her family. She also runs her own blog at livingkansascity.blogspot.com.