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Tigers In Red Weather

Liza Klaussman

Average Rating:


This novel is a delicious treat, perfect for poolside reading. It’s the story of Nick, and her cousin Helena, who share idyllic hot summers in Tiger House…

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Book Synopsis

Nick and her cousin Helena have grown up together, sharing long hot summers at Tiger House. With husbands and children of their own, they keep returning. But against a background of parties, cocktails, moonlight and jazz, how long can perfection last? There is always the summer that changes everything.


Richard's Review

Like Judy I too have high praise for Tigers In Red Weather. This fantastic novel put me in mind of The Great Gatsby, in its story about seemingly endless, languorous days of the super-rich as they while away the long hot summers, all parties, sex, and fun. Which then leads to disillusionment, madness, and tragedy.

Liza Klaussmann is apparently a great fan of F Scott Fitzgerald and his influence is obvious in this, her first book. It is an incredibly accomplished and ambitious tale, and I relished every page.

quotean incredibly accomplished and ambitious talequote

Judy writes of how the delicious sun-filled summers at Tiger House edge into the ‘60s, all the while darkness gradually descending on the lives of cousins Nick and Helena. By now, both have children; Nick’s daughter, Daisy, is a golden girl, but like Helena she is slightly jealous and mistrustful of her brilliant mother, who always seems to get her own way.

Helena’s teenage son, Ed, a couple of years older than Daisy, is a complex character, clearly a troubled soul. He is, in fact, deeply screwed up; obsessed with sex in a very dark way. This is because of his abnormal relationship with his father, a man of secret sexual proclivities. But his only interest in his wife is to get his hands on not her – but the family money.

Then, during one 1950’s summer at Martha’s Vinyard, Ed and Daisy find the corpse of a young woman. She was maid to a local family. This dreadful discovery will mark the beginning of the end of Nick and Helena’s golden years. And it’s also the point where Ed, already a boy with macabre tendencies, begins to finally unravel as the story reaches its deeply disturbing conclusion.

Tigers In Red Weather is sensational; an absolutely perfect beach or poolside summer read.

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Judy's Review

This is Liza Klaussmann’s first novel, and what a brilliant story it is.

It opens in New England just after the second world war. Nick Derringer, a stylishly glamorous young wartime bride, is sharing clinky drinks (almost always gin) with her cousin Helena, an equally-young wartime widow. Nick is excited about the imminent return of her husband, Hughes, who is serving in the US Army in Britain.

quotewhat a brilliant story it isquote

Widow Helena, on the other hand, is about to re-marry in Hollywood. Her fiancé, Avery, is a distinctly shady character of whom Nick disapproves.

Both women are descendants of very rich grandparents, who built a wonderfully luxurious holiday home in Martha’s Vineyard, called ‘Tiger House’. This is where most of the book is set, as the cousins spend idyllic hot summers on the island throughout the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. These days are lingering and sensual, with wonderful cocktail parties, endless martinis by the beach, and Nick’s beloved jazz records.

At first, reunited with Hughes, and living near his army base in Florida (heat and sun pervade this novel – you almost feel like taking a cooling shower) Nick is the girl who has ‘It’, or sex appeal. She’s not exactly beautiful, but very attractive, and both men and women are hugely drawn to her.

Helena, now living in Hollywood with Avery, is deeply unhappy. Avery has hopeless ambitions to be a movie mogul and treats his new wife appallingly, constantly making her take tranquillisers to keep her subdued and thus make his life easier.

But Nick’s days are darkening too and, as the decadent decades roll by, a sinister element invades all their lives.

This wonderful summer read reminds me of one of my favourite books – Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. I can think of no higher praise.

  • bionictadpole

    hmm… hasn’t Fern Britten just released one with a similar concept?

  • tb

    Really looking forward to this one- it’s been on my “to read” list, but thanks to Richard & Judy it’s been bumped to the top of the queue! Fab list to look forward to reading all summer x.

  • Georgina Tranter

    I loved this book, from its gorgeous cover to its wonderful settings. This is a very atmospheric novel, you can feel the heat of the long summer days and of the dispair of the bored American housewife who can choose between affairs with her men or being calmed with drugs to fulfill her days. Couldn’t fault it.

    • Richard Madeley

      Yes, the sense of summer ennui and boredom and baking heat is very strong. Amazing that this is the author’s debut, isn’t it?

  • A Parker

    I am so shocked that this is on Richard & Judy’s list I read it last summer.
    Very disjointed no real story no empathy with characters I finished it just!!

  • Sue

    I loved this book – telling the story from different points of view really moves the plot on and the way the author gradually reveals more and more is so clever.

  • Jinger Kat

    Well written and good read. I like the way the different characters get to tell their own story

  • bombus

    i couldn’t put it down – i read last year and loved it. defo one for the poolside – made me think of talented mr ripley. looking forward to discussion

    • Richard Madeley

      Yes, I totally agree with that Ripley comparison; just as in Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley stories, you just know something truly dreadful is going to happen. But for me there was a lot of The Great Gatsby here too, didn’t you think?

  • Sarah

    Sometimes good writing alone is not enough – and Tigers in Red Weather fell into that bracket for me. Definitely well written and well constructed, and very atmospheric, but there was no underlying hook to the story to keep me captivated. I certainly found the first half quite hard to plough through and although I raced through the second half it was more out of just wanting to get to the end so that I could read something else the following night. Ultimately the characters were too flat for me. I didn’t warm to any of them, and whilst in the case of other books (eg Gone Girl) liking the characters is not a pre-requisite to liking the book it would have helped with this one. Tigers is told from the perspective of the 5 main characters, each in turn rather than swapping between them throughout the book, although the time skips about over a 25 or so year period. It is the story told from the final character in the final few chapters that is the most compelling part of the book, but for me it was too little too late.

    • Richard Madeley

      JUDY SAYS: I’m genuinely surprised to read those comments, Sarah – I though the characters were vivid, even if they weren’t always likeable. And for me the evocation of summer life on Martha’s Vinyard was beautifully drawn. I sort of see what you mean about the hook, but I think the story unfolds in a fascinating way. Oh well – that’s what’s so great about fiction: it’s totally subjective.

  • Clare

    was interesting to read and the characters all seemed to be withholding parts
    of their characters which are slowly revealed. Helena feels resentful of Nick interference
    in her life and Nick wants to be the centre of everyones attention. Daisy feels estranged from her mother Nick
    and Ed seems to inhabit his own world to escape the problems his mother
    Helena has.

    • Richard Madeley

      Yes, good point about the characters keeping parts of their psyches hidden from us, or trying to.

  • GillianAndersonPrice

    Tigers is one of my ALL TIME favorite books! Might just read it again, it’s THAT good!

    • Richard Madeley

      JUDY SAYS So, obviously you didn’t enjoy it, then… haha.

  • Martha Cooper

    I quite liked the beginning of this book but it kind of went a bit flat for me then. For some reason I couldn’t quite connect with it or with the characters. I really didn’t care what happened to any of them. I was really disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it as I was looking forward to reading it. I wouldn’t recommend it I’m afraid.

  • christine keen

    i am a total bookworm and always buy from the bookclub but this book i found as much as i tried i couldnt get into it which i was disappointed in myself coz i love to fifnish a book i read 249 pages and had to put it down the story wasnt sinking it all and coz it kept changing on chapters i couldnt keep up, im going to try again at a later date xx

  • Emma Thompson

    I have to agree with many posts further down! the book just didnt grip me, I had such high hopes, and i too gave up trying. I had no empathy with any of the characters, the book didnt get under my skin and become a part of my life. It is very well writeen, but it really lacked a spark for me.

  • Gilly S

    I absolutely LOVED this book. I was completely fascinated by the characters and had to race to the end to find out what really happened with the maid! beatutifully written with metaphors that made me laugh. It would make a great film.
    Thanks for the recommendation Richard and Judy.

  • Angela

    I was rather disappointed with this book. I had been really looking forward to reading it and felt it didn’t deliver on many levels. I couldn’t find any sympathy towards any of the characters and felt the story was disjointed and lacking atmosphere.

  • Helen

    I loved this book. It evoked a certain sadness and futility about relationships based on mediocrity rather than trust and love. The affair Hughes had caused deep sorrow and his refusal to let go of this emotion ruined their lives. The prose of disillusionment was perfect with emotion left floating in the heat of summer. An excellent book choice, very great Gatsby – ish.

  • Becky Boyce

    I’m rather late with my comments, but I really enjoyed this book. For me, there might have been a darker twist at the end, as I felt a little let down in the last few pages, but I adored the setting, the atmosphere, and although, I too, didn’t empathise with the characters hugely, I found them all page-turningly intriguing. Great book!