Tigers in Red Weather
Lisa Klaussmann, 2012
Little, Brown & Company
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. (From the publisher.)
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. (From the publisher.)
Ms. Klaussmann's strongest suit is the cut-glass quality of her prose, which presents the characters' perceptions in bold contours while still suggesting their emotional fragility.
Sam Sacks - The Wall Street Journal
With echoes of Nancy Drew murder mysteries and The Great Gatsby that extend well beyond the names Nick and Daisy-plus allusions to Wallace Stevens, to which it owes its abstruse title. Tigers in Red Weather is a deftly constructed, suspenseful family melodrama that exposes the dark innards of privilege.
A fine and subtle first novel.... [Klaussmann's] written an elegant playbook on passive aggression, a study of the desires and resentments that burn away souls behind teeth-clenched smiles.... This is a well-crafted novel that tracks the way familial disappointments can ferment into poisonous hatreds. Its alluring accumulation of bile reminded me of Maggie O'Farrell's The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.... Klaussmann is a master at unexpressed despair, which is always eventually expressed, of course.
Ron Charles - Washington Post
Tennessee Williams knew it; so did Harper Lee. There's something about a story anchored in the summer months that makes deception a little juicier, desire a little sultrier, and murder just a little more wicked. Brimming with all three, Liza Klaussmann's skillfully constructed debut novel of family intrigue and restless secrets...arrives this summer as a riveting addition to the genre.... Klaussmann's full-bodied prose considers the shortcomings of intimacy and the pitfalls of searching for an overarching family truth—all with the seductive pull of a Gothic melodrama.
Antonina Jedrzejczak - Vogue
Klaussmann's...sharp observations and lyrical prose make for a poignant read.
Sara Vilkomerson - Entertainment Weekly
Tigers in Red Weather has the irresistible, opiate undertow of a fine Southern gothic novel; it's best read in long, languid, effortless pulls.
Laura Miller - Salon
Klaussmann's carefully crafted soap opera skillfully commingles mystery with melodrama, keeping readers guessing about what really happened until the end. While her characters' duplicitous behavior will elicit strong reactions, Ed's psychological progression is the most fascinating to watch. The shocking finale, seen through Ed's all-knowing eyes, scintillates as much as it satisfies.
A meditation on love, desire, and personal choices, this rich and compelling literary debut novel by a former New York Times journalist and the great-great-great-granddaughter of Herman Melville is sure to appeal to a variety of readers
A smart, unsettling debut.... Klaussmann's pitch-perfect portrait of the Derringer marriage gives the novel a strong emotional charge. Their complicated, painfully loving relationship and their mutual tenderness for fresh-faced Daisy ring true....... Stinging dialogue and sharp insights offer strong foundations on which this novice author can build.
1. Does Tigers in Red Weather have a main character? If so, who do you think it is?
2. What does the murder represent in the novel? Does it have equal impact on all of the characters?
3. Is Nick a heroine or villain? Do you believe her assertion that she didn’t have an affair with Tyler? Does she really love Daisy, or does she resent her?
4. What brings about Hughes’s newfound feelings for Nick later in the novel? Is there a specific catalyst?
5. Hughes finds Ed’s behavior disturbing throughout the novel, but it’s not just the boy’s actions he’s threatened by. How does Ed’s way of thinking, and the knowledge he’s accumulated, threaten Hughes’s relationships and his world?
6. Why is the first-person used only in Ed’s section?
7. Tigers in Red Weather is divided into five sections, each focused on a different character. Which sections did you enjoy most and least, and why? What do you think we’re meant to feel about each of the characters? How does the author show us that something is off about Ed long before his first-person narration grants us a window into his psyche?
8. Why does Helena stay with Avery, despite her unhappiness?
9. Why is so much of Daisy’s character told from a child’s point of view? What does that say about her role in the novel?
10. On page 134, after witnessing Tyler and Peaches kiss, Daisy wishes she could be like Scarlett O’Hara, independent and free, and forget about Tyler, but she’s also scared. When you were a child, who were your role models, literary or otherwise? What they did represent for you? Now that you’re older, who do you look up to?
11. If you ranked the characters from most to least moral, where do they stand?
12. What does the title of the book mean? How is the poem related to the story?
13. On page 298, Ed tries to explain to Hughes his hunch that people are “going about it all the wrong way.” What do you think Ed means? Which people, and what do you think Ed would approve of as the “right” way? Why does Ed’s comment so unsettle Hughes?
14. On page 351, Nick says to Hughes, “It’s the strangest thing, but I have this feeling.... Like everything...” And Hughes replies, “Yes. Everything is.” Complete Nick’s sentence for her. What do you imagine she’s trying to say? Given the circumstances, is there any other way to interpret it? Why do you think the author chose to leave this vague, and how did it affect your experience as a reader?
15. What did you make of the ending of Tigers in Red Weather? Do you think Ed is rehabilitated?
(Questions issued by publisher.)
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