Precious Things is one of my favourite adult fiction books of the year. It’s a slow-burner, but it’s beautifully written with wonderful characters and hidden historical gems.
Kelly Doust has done a marvellous job of writing an adult fiction book that resembles historical fiction as well as contemporary fiction. Precious Things follows many characters throughout the past few centuries, however the main character is Maggie, an auctioneer in modern-day London. She comes across a crumpled, neglected collar in a box of old junk, and sets out on an unexpected mission to discover more about its secret and elusive past.
Whilst this happens, Kelly has interwoven chapters in the book about who owned the collar in the past. In Normandy, France in 1891, a young woman sews the beaded collar to her wedding dress the night before her marriage to someone she barely knows. And then in Shanghai in 1926, we come across a dancing sensation Zephyr who finds that same collar discarded on a ballroom floor. There are many other characters that are explored in this novel, all who have come across this collar at some point in their lives, holding special meaning for them and the reader. The collar has passed through the hands of many talented young people, but not for long.
It’s hard not to fall in love with these characters. They’re kind-hearted, devoted, passionate, and struggling. The collar seems to come into their lives when they most need some kind of good luck charm. And as quickly as it enters their lives, it departs, finding itself a new owner and a new life to latch onto.
Kelly juggles all of the storylines extremely well. Not once did I feel confused, and I read this book in two sittings. It’s not a complicated storyline, but it is full of emotional turmoil and heartbreak. It forces the reader to become active when engaging with this book, and not passive. It’s impossible to not relate to these characters or feel anything for them. They all have flaws and faults, but they’re all driven and deserving of an easy life. And tragedy seems to befall quite a few of them.
This novel explores desire, marriage, relationships, friendships and family, and illustrates that the thing or things we most cherish or desire can be gone all too quickly. Precious Things is an absorbing tale with fascinating characters and storylines, and I recommend this book to everyone.
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