Archive for May, 2013

TIGER’S CLAWS TOO BLUNT FOR SOME

This month we discussed TIGERS IN RED WEATHER by Liza Klaussmann
The Amazon description reads: ’Nick and her cousin Helena have grown up together, sharing long hot summers at Tiger House. With husbands and children of their own, they keep returning. But against a background of parties, cocktails, moonlight and jazz, how long can perfection last? There is always the summer that changes everything.’
This best-seller set in Martha’s Vineyard, and covering the two decades after the end of World War II, has received rapturous reviews but the Berwick Book Group members are a hard bunch to please. There was a distinct tone of ‘meh’ in the feedback from the majority.
Martin was the most anti- , writing: ‘yet again a book which fails to raise a scintilla of interest. I couldn’t even skim read as by using a man’s name for the woman I kept tripping over it. Having finally become aware that Nick was female I found her a total waste of space and consigned the book to the scrap heap. I tried looking deeper into the book to see if anything happened. If it did I never noticed. Execrable. Merde. Rubbish.’
Jill felt that there was too much of the ‘soap opera’ about it, and Helen, who did not finish the book, thought that far too little happened.
Paula and Glynis both found it a more enjoyable read – Paula particularly liked the descriptive style and the examination of how a whole class would rally round to protect one of its own – but they both felt that the ending was ‘over-the-top’ and not in keeping with the tone of the rest of the book
I also enjoyed the book. I liked the writing, which was full of nuance and sub-text and currents moving beneath the surface. The characters were each distinct and complex and the sensual detail of the descriptive passages was beautifully done. I wondered why the author had opened with Nick in her time away from the hub of the plot, Martha’s Vineyard. This was a risky strategy, which lost some of our group. However, I enjoyed the five different narrators, and the way their views of the other protagonists influenced my own feelings. I agreed with Paula and Glynis about the ending – it was a false note on which to end a compelling narrative.

Next month, in June, we will be discussing ‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes. Meanwhile, here are some other reading recommendations from the group:
Hilary Mantel’s ‘Beyond Black’.
‘Play it Again’ by Alan Rusbridger.
Any of the crime fiction novels of Alexander McCall Smith, Andrew Taylor or Susan Hill
Kathy Reich’s novel for young adults, ‘Virals’.
‘The Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel
Chris Beckett’s prize-winning ‘Dark Eden’
‘The English Patient’ by Michael Ondaatje

Ann Coburn

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About the book group

The Berwick Book Group meets on the first Tuesday of every month at the First Class Passenger Lounge on the platform of Berwick Train Station at 6.30pm.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit www.newwritingnorth.com/submit/join-berwick-book-group.

May 2013
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