The first thing that struck me when I began reading ‘Tea Cups and Tiger Claws’ by Timothy Patrick was that the author had a strong and engaging voice, a real boon when writing in omniscient point as view as the author has here. The second thing I noted was that the story was almost entirely told rather than shown—usually a recipe for disaster in modern fiction—but I felt that this might be one of the few books that could pull this off. However, when the story moved away from Dorothea before I had developed any connection with her—basically due to the telling in omniscient POV—I changed my mind. Had the writing been more immediate, I would have felt something for her. But by the time I got to the end of the book, my initial impression had returned. The telling works because the narrator’s voice is strong and unique, and the story and its themes were well developed.
The couple of plot points that were introduced and left hanging (that of the basement and the suggestion of blackmail after Dorothea’s father’s death) were reincorporated at the end, solving the mystery of the hanging plot threads. When we switched generations, I thought the plot was wandering, but when we finally settled onto Sarah as the main character, it all came together again. The pacing kept me reading without wanting to pause, and ended in a vortex of action. The end scenes were written a lot more actively than the rest of the book which, along with the drama of the story, made them highly engaging.
I liked the author’s voice a great deal. He narrated the story with a light, sometimes humorous, touch and there were a few gems in his observations of the society. I also liked how he didn’t reveal the full extent of Dorothea’s insanity until the end, and how the turning point for Veronica was seeing that her mother did, in fact, love her a great deal. There is a lot to like here.
All up, this is an excellent story that makes a strong statement about the corrupting influence of the desire for money and power.