“…Maggie pulled the chair closer to her desk to examine the beaded piece…from the setting of the stones and material, the item looked to be either Victorian or Edwardian, and there was something… fascinating about it. Darkly alluring, almost, even in its ravaged state. “what are you?’ she murmured out aloud.”
– Kelly Doust, Precious Things
Maggie is an auctioneer living in modern-day London, who comes across an intriguing crumpled, neglected beading collar in a box of old junk, and sets out on an unexpected mission to resuscitate it to its original glittering glory. On a hunt to uncover its secret and elusive past, she discovers more about its journey through time in the hands of the women who made it, loved it, desired it and lost it. Maggie has a journey of her own too. Juggling a demanding job, a clingy young child and a rebellious stepdaughter, and with her once-solid marriage foundering under the pressure of a busy life, Maggie has to find out the hard way that you can’t always get what you want… but sometimes, you’re lucky enough to get precisely what you need.
When Precious Things by Kelly Doust arrived in the mail I felt as though it had been written, designed and wrapped up with me in mind! As a lover of all things beautiful and shiny, this book captured my attention the moment I unwrapped it. The team at Harper Collins put together a beautiful package with a candle holder, ribbons, lace and the book. It was a joy to receive and an even greater pleasure to read. The cover is stunning and the story is equally as beautiful; Precious Things is Doust’s debut novel although you can’t tell… Her passion shines through on every page!
When Maggie comes across an embroidered and beaded collar in her travels, she is instantly drawn to the unusual energy it gives off. Found in an old box of junk, Maggie wonders about the history of the piece and uses her auctioneer connections to trace the collar back through time. The unexpected mission reveals a troubled and secretive past of passion, broken hearts and betrayal. From 19th century France to Shanghai in the 1930’s and modern day London, this story is a celebration of all the beautiful things we hold dear. Precious Things is a take of vintage clothes, mothers, daughters and sisters, and busy modern lives.
Doust’s transition from non-fiction to fiction is a lovely one; I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery and beauty of the story. It is clear to the reader that Doust is passionate about the history of vintage clothes; there is a real sense of wonder as to where the pieces have come from and what story they have to share. Doust appears to have taken great care in giving life to the beautiful collar she describes and its many moments through time. Her writing is simple and clear yet evocative and easy to read and I found her characters easy to relate to and get to know. Maggie is a mother with a young clingy child, a rebellious teenage step-daughter and a relationship that is slowly crumbling under the pressures of a busy life. Maggie starts getting lost in the glamorous and frantic pace of her new job, the strains of a full-time career start to take its toll and Maggie almost loses sight of what is most precious in her life.
Overall, Precious Things is a really lovely read! There are a few narrative issues but the reader can easily look past those and enjoy the story as it is. I really love strong character development and while this story is about Maggie, I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the introduction of a temptation to emphasis the troubles within her marriage. I would have loved to see Maggie and Tim work on their issues, with further development of his character too. The discussion around work/ home life balance is a sweet spot, and what will relate to readers most. After all, it is the equation we all seek the answer too!
And to celebrate more beautiful things, I have decided to share something that is precious to me! Four years ago I spent some time travelling overseas and during my time in Europe, I collected some charms that I put together on a bracelet when I came home. It is a piece that is heavy with memories and I can’t help but look back on them fondly, every time I wear it! From beginning to end: a St Christopher medal, the patron saint of travellers; a moving Pinocchio, from Florence, the home of the original story; an Eiffel Tower, from Paris; an Ample Man, from East Berlin; a Swarovski crystal bow, from the first retail store in Vienna; a Star of David, from Warsaw; a bell, from Split in Croatia and finally, a whirling dervish, from Istanbul. For me, it was the perfect way to capture the trip of a lifetime. It was a whirlwind of adventure and emotion but something I will never forget!
AUTHOR: Kelly Doust
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins Publishers Australia
PUB DATE: 1 April 2016
Thank you to Harper Collins Publishers Australia for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!