Review Tiger House by Liza Klaussmann
Tiger House is a spellbinding 5-part drama set in post-war America. Nick and his cousin Helena, as close as sisters or best friends, have always vacationed at Tiger House, the family home on the island of Martha’ Vineyard.
It is the end of the Second World War and they will finally be able to join their respective companions. Helena, widow of a first marriage, moves to Hollywood to marry Avery, a dark film buff, while Nick must find the seductive Hughes with whom she is deeply in love. They make a promise to each other to see each other every summer at Tiger House with their families.
However, various events will make them lose all the carefree attitude of the first chapters.
Nick finds his husband returned from the war changed and distant, incapable of any act of tenderness towards her. Upset by this incongruous change, she is deeply transformed and does everything in her power to become a perfect housewife despite her sometimes boisterous, but above all provocative, behavior. She has become cynical and acerbic, and does not hesitate to hurt Hughes as much as she can despite her mad attraction to him.
Helena is caught up in a torment that destroys her and from which she does not want to escape, preferring to put blinders on than to admit that things are not going well, to the point of hating her cousin, whom she will blame for all the wrongs in her life.
A flawless book
We also follow the thoughts of Hughes, his daughter Daisy (whom he had with Nick) and Ed, Helena and Avery’ son, during different times. They share the same events but not the same points of view, which allows the reader to discover the different dimensions of the novel, making it even more captivating. So when, in the summer of 1959, a macabre discovery is made, the apparent tranquility of the characters will be challenged, raising questions, mistrust and feelings that were previously buried.
The chronology of the novel, going back and forth between the summers of 1945, 1959 (the pivotal summer), 1967 and 1969, gives relief to the narrative, which makes it more interesting.
We are more attentive to the details and to the links between the events of the future and the past and we understand then how much the seemingly insignificant details literally change the deal. The psychology of the narrators is also magnificently pushed, all in nuance, nothing being Manichean or gratuitous. The atmosphere of that time is also masterfully captured, helping the reader to immerse himself with even more ease in those hot and muggy American East Coast summers.
Finally, the rise in tension is perfectly mastered, making the atmosphere at times uneasy and disturbing, approaching the thriller. The conclusion, although shocking, is truly subtle and coherent as the plot is well constructed. This is a first novel full of qualities that will easily please the amateurs of American literature. A faultless to read here without further delay !