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.This one was a really pleasant surprise. I grabbed it from Net Galley and loaded it on my Nook just before we left on vacation earlier this month and I'm really glad I did. I was prepared for a fluffy beach read, and instead was treated to a brilliantly written story of family intrigue, dark secrets, a spectacular sense of place, and well-crafted characters. Klaussmann tells us the story from each of the five main characters' point of view, and the result is breathtaking. It's five stories, all bound together, about expectations, marriages gone awry, romances dying on the vine, with each story clearly labeled in place and time so we are always at ease with where we are on the journey. The deeper into the book I got, the less I wanted to put it down.
The marketing blurb continues:
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.
Even the genre is difficult to put a label on. It can be a mystery but the mysterious elements aren't the driving force; it could be a romance but those relationships, while important, aren't pulling the train either; for some readers it will be a coming of age novel; others will view it as historical fiction- particularly those who want to re-live summers spent on Martha's Vineyard, World War II coming home stories, and growing up in the Eisenhower days; some will find it very dark but others will be able to ignore the dark parts and see it simply as a tale of generational and psychological drama. However you read it, what it is NOT is boring. In fact, I didn't quite get it finished before we left Ocean City so I told hubby he had to drive first, because I was going to finish this book before it got dark and I couldn't read in the car!
Little Brown tells us
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.Let's hope Ms. Klaussmann has more elegant story-telling to share with us.
Author: Liza Klaussmann
Publisher-Format: Little Brown and company (2012), e-galley 368 pages
Subject: Family relationships, secrets
Setting: Martha's Vineyard 1945-1969
Source: ARC from publisher via Net Galley