“I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse,” Helena said.
“At least it’s something different,” Nick said. “No more goddamn ration books. No more taking the bus everywhere. Hughes said he’s bought a Buick. Hallelujah.”
“Lord knows where he got it,” Helena said. “Probably from some cheat fixer.”
“Who cares,” said Nick, stretching her arms lazily toward the New England sky.
They were sitting in the backyard of their house on Elm Street wearing their slips and drinking gin neat out of old jelly jars. It was the hottest Indian summer anyone in Cambridge could remember.
Nick eyed the record player sitting precariously in the window. The needle was skipping.
“It’s too hot to do anything but drink,” she said, laying her head back against the rusting garden chair. Louis Armstrong was stuck repeating that he had a right to sing the blues. “The first thing I’m going to do when I get to Florida is get Hughes to buy me a whole bushel of good needles.”
“That man,” Helena said, sighing.
“I know,” Nick said. “He really is too beautiful. And a Buick and fine record needles. What more could a girl ask for?”
Helena giggled into her glass. She sat up. “I think I’m drunk.”
Published by Picador on the 9th May 2013
Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summers at Tiger House, the glorious old family estate on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. As World War II ends they are on the cusp of adulthood, the world seeming to offer itself up to them. Helena is leaving for Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is to be reunited with her young husband Hughes, due to return from London and the war. Everything is about to change.
Neither quite finds the life she had imagined, and as the years pass, the trips to Tiger House take on a new complexity. Then on the brink of the 1960s, Nick’s daughter Daisy and Helena’s son Ed make a sinister discovery. It plunges the island’s bright heat into private shadow and sends a depth-charge to the heart of the family.
Reviewed by Georgina Tranter
Tigers in Red Weather is Liza Klaussmann’s debut novel, and boy is it good. From the most delicious cover to such captivating prose, I was hooked from the start. This is such an atmospheric novel that you could almost imagine yourself in America through the decades from the end of the Second World War to the Sixties of the Kennedy era.
Nick and Helena are complete opposites; destined for such contrasting lives that it can do nothing but threaten to tear them apart. Klaussmann covers all of the stereotypes of the suburban American housewife; drugged up by her doctor to keep her from straying too far, to the wife who cannot keep her eyes, or hands, off of other men.
It is only when their children make a horrible discovery one summer that the bonds that tie them together start to unravel. How much do we really know of each other’s lives and when pushed, how far will we go to protect those we love?
Set mainly on Martha’s Vineyard it tells of a way of life so different from that which we know today; of pools, and summer parties, and of having nothing better to do than choose which fish to serve. This is the American of the rich and privileged. Written from the perspective of the five main characters, it covers 1945 through to 1969.
This is a perfect summer read and I wholeheartedly recommend it.