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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Tigers in Red Weather" by Liza Klaussmann.

Tigers in Red Weather:  A beach read that, if you finish it, 
you can leave behind at the cottage.

Author Liza Klaussmann mines mid-20th century Martha's Vineyard society in Tigers in Red Weather, which follows the lives of two young women, Nick and her cousin Helena.  When the book begins, World War II is ending.  Nick is off to Florida to meet her husband, Hugh, who is returning from overseas service.  Helena's husband died in the war.  She is going to Los Angeles to get remarried.

Separated by geography and financial wherewithal (Nick and Hugh have money, Helena and her husband do not), the cousins stay connected in part because of the family home, Tiger House, in Martha's Vineyard.  The remainder of the novel, which takes place from the late 1940s to the end of the 1960s, concerns the women's marriages, children, money or the lack thereof, tennis, parties, bad behavior and a murder.  For me, all these plot ideas didn't add up to very much and, measured on a scale of one to ten, Tigers in Red Weather comes in at about a five.

Why only a five?  Tigers in Red Weather never quite clicked into a solid, story-telling groove, in my opinion.  The story is told from the perspective of  five different characters in succeeding sections.  This can be a wonderful technique (Olive Kitteridge, for example).  Here, however, the changes in perspective simply reinforced my ambivalence about the plot overall.  It seems a bit like 'chick lit' - without the sense of humor found in that genre - which aspires to be a novel of manners.

Yet even with strong feelings of ambivalence, I continued reading.  On the positive side, this book has interesting ambiance, lots of surprises, and it is unique.  I wanted to know what happened.  And in sum, that makes Tigers in Red Weather just fine for reading at the beach.

That's my opinion.  If you've read Tigers in Red Weather, please share your views about it in the comments section.


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