The book is largely set in the 1950s and 1960s so feels very like the film Revolutionary Road in terms of period and US young families. The setting revolves around Tiger House on Martha's Vineyard (though the island's name is never mentioned) despite important scenes tacking place in London, Florida and Cambridge, Mass. The centre of attention is Nick Derringer and her cousin Helena and their respective husbands Hughes and Avery, and children Daisy and Ed; well, Avery is talked about a lot but rarely seen by the reader and is the only one of the six without their own section. All the narration is third person except for Ed at the end where it is apparent he can no longer speak so first person is used. This is one of those novels with not only multiple viewpoints but a time line that jumps around between 1945 and 1969. Whilst a structure where the plot moves forward but with flashbacks is OK, this time travel back and forth is difficult for the reader - I had to refer back a lot and missed certain points. Characterisation is very good and the narrators are fairly reliable - they just don't communicate well and therefore don't get to see what is happening in front of them. The Derringer family all have multi-coloured layers but Helena's family are much blacker - a brooding alcoholic, the sinister Ed and the deranged Avery. The plot also moves along nicely - except that the reader has to work hard to establish it all. All in all an interesting and atmospheric read.
Such a pretty cover! It took a little while for me to get into this story and it seemed a bit slow and unconnected in the beginning, (and I didn't really like Nick very much) but as things started to make more sense I had to keep flipping pages to see where it all led. Nick actually grew on me as the book went on but the person I liked the most was Daisy and I got the most from her bits of story. All the characters were nicely woven in and even though I didn't like all of them they made the story come to life. I felt the heat of Marth's Vineyard just rolling off the pages as I got deeper into it.
It's hard to know which genre this belongs to, it has a bit of all sorts in it. Romance? Thriller? Mystery? Family Saga?...It's all of those and none of them at the same time. It's difficult to describe.
Some of it makes no sense at the start and it's not until events are told from another person's viewpoint that little clues start to reveal themselves but it seemed like there was a lot of Red Herrings throughout...maybe I just missed some important clues though as it was a bit hard to keep up with it all sometimes.
All in all a good read and one that really conjures a bygone era.
I am not a fan of describing a plot of the book in the review (for which there is a synopsis), but if I were to describe it, I would have faced some difficulties. It is hard to pinpoint what is this book. It's not necessarily a love story, it's not the most exciting thriller or a journey into the psyche of a maniac, it's not even a saga of one big family. But "Tigers in Red Weather" is nevertheless a good solid read.
There are five characters, and five of them make this book sizzle and work on you, and build up and make the book a page-turner. Post-war America (somewhat a sixth character, always there) is beautifully and eloquently described, my mouth was watering at both desciptions of meals cooked by Nick and descriptions of sizzling hot summer evenings on the East Coast. There is a certain charming, almost hypnotising setting to the whole events-packed story.
"Tigers in Red Weather" is well structured and Liza Klaussmann knows her characters. She distinctly voices completely different players to the setting, they are all different, they are all alive on the pages of the story devoted to them.
But to be totally honest, overall, even though I devoured this book literally within one Saturday, I found it to be a bit weak on the conclusion. The one chapter that was saved to the end, the one that were to really grab you and answer all the questions left me a bit disappointed. But, as I mentioned before, the book is not a thriller or a study on the development of a criminal mind. And I don't think Ms Klaussmann's aim was to write some serious study on the family workings or on parents - children relationships. But she certainly enjoyed writing the book - and I certainly enjoyed reading it. Everybody wins. Sometimes that is all there is to the literally craft (and in my humble opinion, this book is very well crafted!).
Another star goes here for creating such a bitter sweet relationship between Nick and her husband Hughes. I could literally feel their pain and frustrtaion; their badly timed desires for each other were palpable.
The Tigers is the name of a house on the East Coast of America.... playground of the wealthy. The novel revolves around the goings on of the families of two cousins, Nick and Helena, and is broken up into five sections, each one dealing with a member of the two families. It also hops back and forth between two decades within each section, so is, at times, a little confusing. None of the characters has anything meaningful to say or do as they move through their privileged lives from one tennis match to another, through dinner parties and drinks on the terrace. It's all very superficial and shallow; having said that, this is the reality of some members of present day society. One thing I did find irritatng is they way Helena addresses people as "Dearest" or "Dearest lamb"....it just didn't sit right. The weather is always beautiful....no rain or wind.... so presumably this is the "Red Weather" of the title. There is an underlying tension to all this, but there are no great surprises, and the actual ending is more of a fizzle than a bang.
The book is described as a "simmering novel of passion, betrayal and secret violence" leading the would-be reader to expect much more than we actually got. I'm afraid the passion must have passed me by as I didn't notice it. Yes, it's readable in that lazy, sunny day deckchair kind of way, but there is nothing ground-breaking or earth-shattering here.
This novel centres around Tiger House, the name originally given by one of the family's ancestors, in memory of President Roosevelt who back in the day was a big game hunter, and who was particularly fond of hunting tigers.
The story shuttles back and forth between eras - from 1944 to 1969 - and we see the plot unfolding through the eyes of the main players. Central are Daisy and Ed, who are the young cousins, and their respective Mothers Nick and Helena, and their respective husbands Hughes and Avery. It is an incredibly readable book, with a captivating style - there are vignettes of domestic life from the era, and 'innocuous' incidents, redolent of malice that punctuate the plot. The storyline increasingly feels quite claustrophobic, hot red of Summer as in "red weather" of the title - stultifying, enervating, sapping, vision-blurring.... just like when thunder clouds hang heavy and something momentous is about to happen. The reader is watching and waiting, absorbing the pungent smells of perspiring island life. We are spectating, just like Ed, who himself is an observer, a voyeur, even, of events. Is he the tiger or the hunted, quietly and unobtrusively observing the comings and goings?
The central event in this book is the murder of an Hispanic maid, which lurks as a leitmotiv pulling the story together.
Each section is clearly titled and dated to keep the sequence flowing - we know which character is speaking and in which era it is set, but on occasion it can be a little hard to keep up.
Themes and events speckle the course of the book, but fade away without significance. This just took the edge off it....The colour yellow pops up regularly at the beginning and there is anticipation that this colour might be relevant to the plot (afterall, it is the dominant colour of the the wonderful cover - but read on below!!!), however the references just evaporated. Early on, there are regular references to the perfume Lily of the Valley, but they, too, serve no function. There are copious references to tigers throughout the book, whether in the title, whether in material, dresses or cushions, and the final mention comes at the end, where we learn the title of the book has come from a line from a poem by American modernist poet, Wallace Stevens. Red herrings they aren't. The references just float in time and space, distractions as we watch and wait.....
I am almost at the end of this novel so still have one more section to go, but can honestly say, I don't think there is anything that can happen that will ruin my opinion of this book.
Like many of the other reviewers, I can't really say what this is about or what genre I would place it in. I don't think the synopsis on the back of the book really does it justice but then again, I can't think how they could give more detail! There are five different narrators telling the same story but from different viewpoints. As the book progresses, little nuggets of information come out that reveal the characters you thought you knew, in an entirely new light.
I wasn't really sure about it when I first picked it up, I got sucked in by the great artwork on the cover and I couldn't really engage with Nick's character but was genuinely disappointed when I got t the end of her segment. As the book progresses, darker themes emerge and I can honestly say, I do not know what is going to happen.
This s a very cleverly written book. The writer has played some scenes out several times and they always seem fresh and lead off into other avenues for the various characters.
If you are looking for a book you can really get absorbed in, I would recommend this. One of my best reads of the year so far.