Contemporary, Historical

Review: Tea Cups and Tiger Claws by Timothy Patrick

Tea Cups and Tiger Claws
Image from Timothy Patrick; used by permission

Title: Tea Cups and Tiger Claws

Author: Timothy Patrick

Genre: Historical/Contemporary

When identical triplets are born in 1916, newspapers from across the country cover the story, and the babies become little celebrities. Unfortunately, this small portion of fame leads to a much larger portion of parental greed, and the triplets are split up – parceled out to the highest bidders. Judith and Abigail go to live in a hilltop mansion, but Dorthea is not so lucky. She is stuck with a shady family in an abandoned work camp.

Identical in appearance and with the same blood in their veins, the sisters should have also shared united destinies. Instead, those destinies are thrown to the wind, and the consequences are extreme – and very visible – because in their small town, every detail of their lives is witnessed, deliberated, and judged.

I picked up this book mainly on the premise of identical triplets separated as babies and raised in very different households. The whole nature vs. nurture thing is fascinating to me (plus I’m writing a book with a similar concept, so the idea is pretty close to my heart), so I figured I’d try it.

Dorthea was the main character for the first half of the book. She was ambitious, which I admired…but that was about it. She was just so heartless and ruthless and immoral. I kept trying to find something redeeming, I really did. But as the book went on, she got worse, and I hated her so much.

Veronica, Judith’s daughter, was a spoiled brat. A spoiled, selfish, irresponsible, lazy brat. She had so much potential, though, and I hated her mostly because she could do so much…and instead, she got in trouble and threw money at it to make it go away.

Sarah, Abigail’s daughter, was the only redeeming main character in the book. She was nice, and actually cared about people. She tried a little too hard to please everyone, but I was willing to overlook that because she was the one main character I didn’t want to punch in the face.

One thing I did enjoy about Tea Cups and Tiger Claws was the sweeping scope. It started out with the birth of the Dorthea, Abigail, and Judith to a selfish, rude woman in the poor neighborhood. Then it followed Dorthea, the triplet her mother kept, up through middle age with her driving and ruthless desire to get ahead in the world.

When Sarah and Veronica get into their late teens, it switches to following them – and how they help, hinder, and react to Dorthea’s schemes. I found it interesting that this book managed to cover two generations, a huge cast of important characters, and shifting main characters while still maintaining a coherent plot.

This book was a struggle. The characters were so evil and immoral and petty. I hated almost all of them. Even the romance between Sarah and the sweet stablehand Mack was tainted by how much I hated everyone else. The problem was, Dorthea was brilliant, and I wanted to see how her schemes would play out. I hated the book, but I was fascinated by it, and I hated that I found it fascinating.

Tea Cups and Tiger Claws was just too much for me. Too much evil and too much selfishness and too much sin. I hated it, but I was fascinated by it, and that more than anything else is what made it difficult. This is my personal opinion and has little to do with the book or the writing – it was just not a book for me.

I received a free review copy of Tea Cups and Tiger Claws from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

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