In the shadow of Melville

Liza_Klaussmann-220.jpgThe great-great-great granddaughter of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville has published her first novel.

Former journalist Liza Klaussmann, 36, said she doesn't feel burdened by the legacy of her iconic forefather, but is inspired by it.

"It's like a benevolent ghost, really," Klaussmann said Monday in Toronto, as she was promoting her novel Tigers in Red Weather.

"I don't identify with him nor do I sort of fight against him. It's nice. He's great, he's a genius. I don't sort of pretend to be in that crew. How can you live up to that?"

Melville's literary achievements have had a lasting effect on his descendants. Klaussmann grew up in a family with an intense love of literature, and says that "books were flowing out of the house" in her youth. Her mother used to read aloud at the dinner table, Klaussmann recalled.

tigers-read-weather.jpgHer novel is an exploration of family (and family secrets), focusing on two twenty-something female cousins after the Second World War as they prepare for married life. Their paths are wildly divergent and filled with unique challenges, but they return to each other's company during summers at the family estate called Tiger House. A terrifying murder one summer serves as a catalyst for decades of dark deceptions to unravel.

"A lot of the main characters -- either on purpose or by accident -- end up sort of hurting each other," Klaussmann said. "They sort of collide with each other because of their own sort of innate desires and they're kind of carnivorous in a way."

-With files from The Canadian Press