First comes the miracle and then comes the madness. The miracle is the birth of identical triplets, and the madness is all about money, of course. The year is 1916 and the newborn baby girls have become pint-size celebrities. Unfortunately, this small portion of fame soon leads to a much larger portion of greed, and the triplets are split up—parceled out to the highest bidders. Two of the girls go to live in a hilltop mansion. The third girl isn’t so lucky. She ends up with a shady family that lives in an abandoned work camp. That’s how their lives begin: two on top, one on the bottom, and all three in the same small town. And when their worlds collide, as they must, the consequences are extreme.
Tea Cups & Tiger Claws spans fifty years and takes the reader from a shantytown to a gilded mansion, from dark desires to sacrificial love.
In Patrick's uneven novel, the lives of triplet girls born in 1916 take very different paths after a wealthy woman adopts daughters Abigail and Judith from poor, earthy Ermel Railer and her husband, Jeb. The third sister, Dorthea, is not as lucky and eventually she ends up in a work camp. However, over the next half-century, the sisters' paths cross as Dorthea embarks on a relentless and increasingly vicious quest for the life her sisters obtained. While the book's theme of true merit versus apparent virtue is fascinating, the novel suffers from poor plotting and underdeveloped characters. Additionally, the story's climax is implausible, melodramatic, and drawn-out. In the end, these deficiencies will prevent readers from becoming fully engaged in the sisters' story.