Friday, July 27, 2012

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann is the kind of book that's hard to explain and easy to recommend, by which I mean: complex, riveting, and beautiful written.

The story takes place in the United States, mainly at Tiger House which is located in Martha's Vineyard, beginning at the end of World War II and spanning several decades. When it starts, Nick and her cousin Helena– who are more like sisters, really– are parting ways as they go off to their husbands. Helena is off to Hollywood with a new husband, a man obsessed with another woman, while Nick is reunited with her husband, Hughes, who has just returned from the war, distant and cold and maybe with a secret of his own.

A decade and a half later, Nick and Helena return to Tiger House, a family home owned by Nick, joined by their children, Daisy and Ed. But the visit goes awry when the two kids discover a body that was brutally murdered and the violent crime will change all of their lives forever. 

Tigers in Red Weather is  actually divided into five perspectives: Nick, Daisy, Helena, Hughes, and Ed. It's the kind of thing I hate–too confusing and you never really get to know anyone– but Klaussmann makes it work because even when it's from another character's viewpoint the reader is constantly learning about the other key characters anyway. Plus, because 4 of the 5 perspectives are from the third person, the writing remains similar between them and provides a kind of continuity. While most events are unique, there are a couple key ones that appear in more than one of the narratives and allow the chance for the reader to see what different characters were thinking at the same moments. I especially loved that the fifth and final perspective was first person, as it just suited the narrative perfectly. Klaussmann definitely knows what she is doing!

Of course the most remarkable thing about Tigers in Red Weather is the writing, which is absolutely gorgeous. Each sentence is perfectly crafted, and the flow of them together is just lyrical. As a result of Klaussmann's skilled writing, each character is rich and well-developed, with just enough strangeness and cruelty to make them both interesting and believable. The relationships between the characters, especially Nick and Helena, was also complex. It was clear that they both loved each other, but there was also a lot of tension involved because of Helena and her jealousy of Nick, especially when it came to money, and that had some unexpected repercussions.

Although Tigers in Red Weather is definitely a literary novel, it also had an eery edge of mystery mixed into the story that I loved. Some literary novels may have beautiful writing, but Klaussmann combines that with an incredibly compelling story and plot, so that I was definitely turning the pages wanting to know what happened next and how things fit together. The ending was one hundred percent not what I expected, but it was also absolutely perfect and creepy. In fact, the entire novel was just as rewarding from page one right till the very ending, everything tied together by Klaussmann's beautiful writing and storytelling skill. Tigers in Red Weather may be Klaussmann's debut but it is absolutely not the last novel by her I will be reading.

Release Date: July 17th 2012  Pages: 368  Format: Hardcover 
Source: Publisher Publisher: Random House Canada  Buy It: Book Depository


  1. Thank you for the review!
    This one has been on my radar for the past month, but I was a bit hesitant since I'm not a big fan of novels set in the early 20th century. But your review has motivated to give this one a try! I love a complex, believable characters and a beautifully written piece of literary fiction any day.
    Especially since I heard eight publishers bidded for it.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    1. I had no idea it was bid on by 8 publishers, but it doesn't surprise me. It's incredibly well written, and it's definitely more literary than historical if that makes scene. It's the writing and the characters that really captured me, and it's way more about that then the time period.


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