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Magwood on Books

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Reviewed: Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann, Picador

Tigers in Red WeatherBy far the most glorious cover on the shelves at the moment, and the book more than lives up to it. Trailing whispers of another Gatsby, and written by a great- granddaughter of Herman Melville, there was a fierce bidding war between eight publishers for this debut novel.

Set mostly in Martha’s Vineyard in the years between 1945 and 1969, it plays out in five separate strands of narrative. Centre stage is Nick, an alluring, restive creature “with a rapacious appetite for life” who marries the dependable, golden club man Hugh. It begins in the years after the war, when so much was to change, and so much was promised.

Their life in Tiger House, the epitome of East Coast glamour,is oiled by martinis and saturated with ennui. Nick’s cousin Helene, as close as a sister, has made do with a bizarre marriage to a Hollywood man and she slips into addiction. Her creepy, disturbed son comes to Tiger House and is the catalyst for much drama in this rarefied playground for the smart set. The eye of the storm is a murder but it is the complex Nick who carries the story, as we view her through different points of view and at various stages of her life.

Elegantly written in a minimalist, evocative style and set to a soundtrack of Count Basie, this is an assured debut from a great new talent.

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