The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Tag Archives: Liza Klaussmann

Villa America


Liza Klaussmann has researched and written an incredible story about Gerald and Sara Murphy. Before reading Villa America (B+) I was unaware of this couple that interacted with the likes of F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway.

Gerald’s father owned the very prosperous Mark Cross Company that neither he nor his brother were interested in running. Sara Wiborg, also from an extremely wealthy family, fell in love with Gerald. Regardless of the wishes of their families, Gerald married Sara. She was his confidant, understanding him better than anyone else could. They moved to the French Riviera where Gerald painted and Sara entertained with lavish and exotic parties. Together they raised a family of three children and built an enormous house that they named Villa America.

The life they lead there is written in fictional detail in this great historic novel. Some of their famous friends included Archibald MacLeish who wrote his play J. B. based on this friendship. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, Tender is the Night, also relates to Sara and Gerald’s life. Hemmingway, Picasso and John Dos Passos were included in their social circle too.

I found this novel rich and entertaining. It added to the many things I have read and learned about people like the Hemmingways (The Paris Wife) and Zelda Fitzgerald (Zelda). It was fun and interesting to the very end and allowed me into their lives for just a little while.

So if you like historical fiction and a bit of gossip, this one is definitely for you.

Tigers in Red Weather

I was intrigued by the title, Tigers in Red Weather (B) by Liza Klaussmann. We meet Helena and Nick , two cousins who have inherited  Tiger House in Martha’s Vineyard. It is the summer at the end of WWII and they speculate about what will change for them now that the war is over.

Nick is married to Hughes who has been stationed in London. She has always been a bit of a wild child and while she is infatuated with her husband; he doesn’t always measure up.  She keeps him at a distance by her flirty nature and depressive moods. They each hold secrets that bog their relationship down. Their daughter Daisy is often the glue that holds them together.

Helena leaves for California, to marry her second husband, Avery, a Hollywood type. Avery is a man obsessed with a dead starlit.  Unhappy, Helena doesn’t wish to divorce and marry a third time;  so she convinces herself that her love for him and his for her is all that she needs.  With the birth of their son Ed, Avery takes total control of Helena. From a distance, Nick senses that Helena is in big trouble and makes saving Helena her mission.

The women and their children return to Tiger House each summer. One summer, their peace is disturbed when Daisy and Ed discover the body of a murdered woman on the beach.

By alternating the narration from character to character, the many dimensions of events unfold.  The plot is multifaceted with clues and hints delivered along the way. I enjoyed Klaussmann’s writing style, which made Tigers in Red Weather a very good read.  I did know well before the end who did what to whom but was not disappointed by this. I choose to read the novel because the title drew me in but it wasn’t until the very last paragraph that the title made sense. All in all, I am happy to have read this book and I believe you will be too.