Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summer heat, sunbleached boat docks, and midnight gin parties on Martha’s Vineyard in a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of the Second World War, the world seems to offer itself up, and the two women are on the cusp of their ‘real lives’: Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war.
Soon the gilt begins to crack. Helena’s husband is not the man he seemed to be, and Hughes has returned from the war distant, his inner light curtained over. On the brink of the 1960s, back at Tiger House, Nick and Helena–with their children, Daisy and Ed–try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when Daisy and Ed discover the victim of a brutal murder, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel. The members of the family spin out of their prescribed orbits, secrets come to light, and nothing about their lives will ever be the same.
Brilliantly told from five points of view, with a magical elegance and suspenseful dark longing, Tigers in Red Weather is an unforgettable debut novel from a writer of extraordinary insight and accomplishment.
About Liza Klaussmann
Liza Klaussmann worked as a journalist for the New York Times for over a decade. She received a BA in Creative Writing from Barnard College, where she was awarded the Howard M. Teichman Prize for Prose. She lived in Paris for ten years and she recently completed with distinction an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, in London, where she lives. She is the great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville.
The video cannot be shown at the moment. Please try again later.
In September 1945, Nick and Helena are drinking gin in their backyard in Cambridge, Mass., looking forward to the end of rationing and the beginning of their adult lives. Helena is headed for Hollywood to marry Avery Lewis, Nick to Florida to be reunited with her Navy veteran husband, Hughes Derringer. Part I chronicles that less-than-successful reunion from Nick’s point of view, then moves back to Cambridge as both women become pregnant in 1947. Tiger House, Nick’s family home on Martha’s Vineyard, sees a turbulent summer in 1959 when Nick’s daughter Daisy (this section’s viewpoint character) and Helena’s son Ed discover the corpse of a Portuguese maid. We eventually find out who killed Elena Nunes, but the focus is on simmering tensions within and between the two families as the narrative moves into the 1960s and expands to include Helena’s, Hughes’ and Ed’s perspectives. Restless Nick has casual flings that make both Hughes and her unhappy. Avery, obsessed with a dead movie star, gets Helena hooked on pills and pimps her out to a producer. Passive-aggressive Helena, instead of dumping Avery, blames all her problems on the admittedly bossy Nick and encourages creepily detached Ed to resent Nick too. Daisy gets engaged to a young man who seems far too interested in her glamorous mother. Developments in the Lewis family strain credulity, but Klaussmann’s pitch-perfect portrait of the Derringer marriage gives the novel a strong emotional charge. Nick is frustrated by life as a decorative appendage; Hughes is uneasily aware that the part of himself he’s always held in reserve has something to do with her infidelities. Their complicated, painfully loving relationship and their mutual tenderness for fresh-faced Daisy ring true, while the odysseys of Helena and Ed clang with melodrama. – Kirkus Reviews
Liza Klaussmann’s ‘Tigers in Red Weather’: Clever psychological drama
The Washington Post Book Review – July 31, 2012 (Excerpt)
The title “Tigers in Red Weather” suggests a whole lot more teeth and claws than we actually see in Liza Klaussmann’s fine and subtle first novel. But the phrase comes from a Wallace Stevens poem, “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock,” that gets the tone of this psychological drama just right. Klaussmann’s characters are early risers who feel pretty well disillusioned long before 10 o’clock. She’s written an elegant playbook on passive aggression, a study of the desires and resentments that burn away souls behind teeth-clenched smiles.
I wouldn’t ordinarily recommend yet another dysfunctional family vacation novel, but 36-year-old Klaussmann has done something exceedingly clever here. The story concerns two lovely female cousins, Nick and Helena, who summer in an old family cottage on Martha’s Vineyard. We first meet them in 1945, just after World War II. Nick is looking forward to seeing her husband, a lieutenant junior grade she doesn’t know very well. Helena is planning her second marriage, this time to an aspiring Hollywood director.
The young women are devoted but find each other exasperating in different ways. Nick, with her “very polished exterior,” is controlling and superior; she speaks to everyone in “her ‘Don’t be a fool’ voice.” Helena, meanwhile, is needy and naive, with an enlarged capacity for suffering and rage. Neither woman can figure out why she’s so unhappy. Soon, they each have a child with their new husbands. Nick’s daughter is vivacious and competitive; Helena’s son is taciturn and creepy. As we watch their lives over the next 25 years, the tendrils of devotion and resentment grow more tightly entwined, particularly as Nick’s family prospers financially and Helena’s falters. [Read the full article...]
THE SABRINA STRONG SERIES by LORELEI BELL