Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Tigers in Red Weather

Wow. I didn't expect that when I started reading this book!

Told through five diverse voices, Klaussmann peels away layers to reveal the aftermath of a terrible incident which slowly destroys a family. Although the first few pages suggest this is a classic tale of moneyed cousins from the East Coast, oozing gin, glamour and post war optimism, Klaussmann shifts the focus in the latter part to produce a pacy read which surprises and entertains in its closing pages.

The opening chapters set the scene gloriously. Cousins Nick and Helena's relationship is close, although hints are made at their eventual drift. I felt myself longing for more with Nick's section; her charisma is evident throughout and I felt she needed more than a Revolutionary Road-style American Dream critique. Still, this story laid the path for intrigue that followed; hints at Helena's marital issues, evidence of Hughes' less than perfect past - I was definitely lusting for more. It's a shame Helena's rogue husband Avery did not play a greater role, although on balance his strength is in both his absence and his presence through the damage seen in his wife and son.

The final two character studies were particular stand outs for me. The stories of handsome husband Hughes and sinister son Ed really force the pace of the novel; the latter in particular drew gasps from me. Although elements are slightly predictable, the conclusion had me gripped; I'd recommend saving the final few pages for when you're curled up on the sofa rather than risk being interrupted by your stop on the way home from work.

Although this novel was slightly disjointed, Klaussmann created an irresistible world of sticky East Coast summers, endless martinis, lust and glamour, with Ella Fitzgerald's voice calling through the breeze. The book is very dialogue-led which makes for quick progress; in wintry, gloomy January, this tale was a great tonic which surprised. A definite recommendation for the "to read" list.

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