Book Club: Precious Things

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Author: Kelly Doust
ISBN: 978-1-4607-5097-1
RRP: $29.99

Kelly Doust has penned five non-fiction books about craft and fashion, Precious Things is her first venture into fiction and her love of fashion certainly still shines through.

I found it a little difficult to immerse myself in the story to begin with because there are a few different timelines and main characters through the story, I think my issue was trying to piece together the whys and the hows a little too soon.

In 2015, Maggie is living in London and working in an auction house. Life is getting hectic and there have been talks at home about her pulling back a little at work because she is needed more with the family. Husband Tim is in the middle of a huge project that keeps him out of the house a lot, they have a young daughter who is getting clingier rather than more independent and Tim’s teenaged daughter recently arrived on their doorstep to live with them. To set a spanner in the works Maggie is called in for a meeting with the boss and offered the position of head auctioneer, a position that she would really love but has come with terrible timing. Instead of pulling back at work it will mean more evening and weekend work, but it’s an opportunity she just can’t let pass her by.

The main character running through the entire narrative is an ornate beaded piece of material that has had many uses and been called many things. It began as a beaded collar attached to a wedding dress, it went on to become a headband, coronet and choker. Each string of the story hinges on the coronet and the women it belonged to.

Maggie comes into possession of the coronet in a bulk lot of fabrics purchased at auction, ridiculously cheap. At the time it was scrunched in a ball at the bottom of the box and looking a little worse for wear, after a gentle hand wash it regains some of it’s former glory. In a TV segment highlighting Bonninghams and the work they do Maggie shows off the coronet and it comes to the attention of Francesca who vividly remembers owning it once, and is certain it is a tie to the biological parents she knows nothing about. Together Maggie and Francesca embark on a quest to trace the coronet back through time and discover it’s history.

The main narrative follows Maggie; her life, her trials and her quest for answers about the coronet. In between Maggie’s chapters there are chapters introducing us, and letting us get to know, the other women who have owned the coronet in the decades since it was made by Aimee in Normandy, 1891.

precious things

Each of the women have found themselves in trouble around the time they were in possession of the piece, and the piece is portrayed as bad luck with none of the previous owners wanting it back in their possession. The question that is raised as we get further and further into the story sees us begin to wonder if the coronet is bad luck or if it is the owners always wanting more, and the lengths they will go to get it.

One thing I took away from this read is that it really isn’t things that are precious, it’s the people and the memories associated with the things that are precious and what we really need to do is take a step back and be more grateful for the people around us and what we do have rather than the things that we want. Always wanting more is a dangerous trap to fall into because when is it enough, when do you finally get to the point that you don’t want more…. experience, and this book, tells us that it’s usually just after you’ve lost what you already had.

The coronet is a mystery unto itself and I was wondering what bad vibes had been sewn into it when it was first created for much of the story. There are some very dark times around the coronet, there are some questionable decisions and behaviours that really made me lose sympathy for the characters. At the time it had me wondering if it was an influence of the coronet, or was it just coincidence. I think it depends on where you place power.

Maggie and her family go through quite a lot of changes throughout the story and they certainly come out a much more cohesive unit. Through great trials and struggles there is always the opportunity to achieve great triumph, if you manage to change your perspective and nurture what you have.

Doust has written an intriguing and mysterious narrative that did capture me, though it took a little time, and looks at the history behind items that we find when we shop secondhand. Her love of fashion shines brightly from the pages and she will definitely be an author to watch if she continues writing fiction.

Precious Things is book #16 for the Australian Women’s Writers Challenge 2016

Thanks to HarperCollins Australia 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading Precious Things so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

Precious Things is available now through HarperCollins Australia, Booktopia, Angus & Robertson Bookworld and where all good books are sold.
You can find Kelly Doust on her website at, Facebook and Instagram.

10 thoughts on “Book Club: Precious Things

  1. Precious Things by Kelly Doust, is the story of Maggie a busy, young career woman who loves her work as a valuer/auctioneer dabbling in antique and vintage pieces, but is struggling to balance it with the demands of being a wife, mum to a young toddler, and stepmother to her husband’s rebellious daughter from a previous relationship.

    It is also a captivating collection of stories of other young women across the decades, and the loves and tragedies of their lives – from a late 19th century French aristocrat nervously awaiting her arranged marriage, to two dancing sisters seeking their fortune in exotic 1920’s Shanghai, to a tragic artist’s muse living in 1950’s Italy, and struggling to bring up her young illegitimate child, to a gypsy in London and a New York fashion model. Each story is a poignant reminder of the struggles of young women across the centuries.

    What links all of these stories together is their relationship to an intricately beaded, bejeweled lace collar, which has been found by modern day Maggie, abandoned and neglected in a box of old fabrics. From the woman who painstakingly made it, to those who wore it, loved it and lost it… as Maggie traces back the collar’s history she not only uncovers secrets from its elusive past, she also discovers what is real and worth holding onto in her own busy life.

    Precious Things is an interesting and unusual story, which ultimately highlights the importance of valuing what’s truly precious in life versus being seduced by the allure of the shiny and bedazzling. I enjoyed this book but at times the interspersing of the numerous storylines into Maggie’s story, was a little like a loose thread….

  2. A great weekend read, individual stories linked by the lace collar ( unsatisfying though it was not the collar on the cover the pattern was wrong) Each character was distinct and I could relate to each of them. The timeline at the end of the book ( wish I had found it earlier) put the chronological order of collar wearers in an easy format. For some the dual time lines may be confusing. I love historical fiction and this was a great read

  3. I finished this book within a few days, and overall I must say that I found it rather enjoyable. There were a few things that made the book a little difficult to follow, and I feel that the reader would really benefit from reading the Coronet’s Journey (which is right at the end of the book) first, as this would help the storyline run a lot more smoothly in my opinion.
    I liked the character of Maggie, the auctioneer trying to juggle her career as well as her personal life, but I didn’t see the point of having the character of Michael thrown into the story; something about his relationship with Maggie (and later, Stella), just didn’t make sense to me and didn’t seem that this would be something Maggie would do.. I enjoyed the way the story weaved into the past and across the globe, and the many characters that came into the coronet’s presence.
    I was somewhat disappointed that the cover of the book depicting a woman wearing a collar doesn’t match the description of the collar in the story, but the cover is still very nice nonetheless.
    As this is Kelly’s first attempt at a fictional novel, I’d say that it is a great read and I’d be interested to see what other stories she comes up with in the future.

  4. I have just finished Precious Things and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The main character, Maggie, discovers an antique jewelled collar in a box of items from her antique rooms and sets out to track its previous owner. The stories within the story tell us about several owners of the collar. All of the women seem to be struggling to have all that they want in life. The message seems to be that family and love are more important in the long run.

  5. I have just finished reading Precious Things by Kelly Doust and whilst it took me a few chapters to get into the book, once I settled in and had time to read it without interruption I was really drawn into the captivating journey of this mysterious beaded collar and how it weaved into each of the women’s life.

    One of the stories that really touched me was the story of Dariusz the circus strongman and the love he felt for Lexi, his trapeze performing wife, the tragic ending was not what I expected.

    I could easily relate to Maggie’s character, trying to balance a young family, a career, being a supportive wife and mother whilst not loosing yourself can be very challenging. I was very happy and relieved that Maggie didn’t loose all that mattered to her, her family and her husband in the end by giving into temptation!

    I really enjoyed reading this book and found the setting of this story as an auction house has actually reinvigorated my interest in all things vintage. Now, when I’m admiring a gorgeous Art Deco brooch or any piece of jewelry I will be wondering what the history is, if only it could talk…. Oh the stories it could tell!

  6. Precious Things by Kelly Doust is the lifetime journey of a lace collar.

    The story begins with the origin of the collar where it was made by Aimee to be added to her mothers wedding dress that she is going to wear in her wedding, we follow along with the life of the collar.
    From there the story of the collar weaves its way through history and the lives and many women and their stories.
    The story of the collar takes you on a journey of life, love, family, discoveries, children and history. Each persons story is unique and exciting.

    The main story is of Maggie and how the collar finds it’s way into her life. From Maggies journey we also weave into other lives of the collar and how it travelled through hands and history.

    I loved how indepth each character’s stories were and how easily each collar story was woven from one life to another.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this story and want to that Beauty and Lace for letting me read it.

    I can’t wait to read more fiction books from Kelly Doust she is a wonderful story teller.

  7. I enjoyed it at times, however i found the differing storylines a bit hard to follow (although i loved the way they all came together in the end). I did find it took a few chapters to get into.

    I do think the above B&L blurb almost gives you the whole story, whilst it’s more involved it certainly isn’t hard to work out what is going to happen, and there were times where i needed to walk away from it for a while.

    It’d make the perfect book to take away on a holiday, as it isn’t heavy reading, but at the same time isn’t a basic read.

    I don’t know, i’ve umm’d and aaah’d about writing a review. On one hand i enjoyed it, on the other hand i found myself getting frustrated with it. Some of the characters i wanted more info on, some i found a bit frivolous (although, as mentioned above, they all work in to the story in the end). And whilst i didn’t mind Maggie as a character, there were times i wanted to reach in to the book and slap her, as the direction she was taking was so obvious.

    All in all, i enjoyed it, however it isn’t a book i would re-read. But i would love some stand alone books to fill in the gaps of the lives of some of the women within the book.

  8. I found “Precious Things ” an enjoyable book but one that you really have to have time to immerse yourself in to piece the story together.
    I had to put the book down a few times and come back to it to get through the multiple storylines .
    I really did enjoy this book though and enjoyed the different characters interactions with a beaded collar that seems to bring trouble to whomever’s hands it lands in.
    I would also love to find out more about some of the various character’s lives that the collar passes through . From the late 19th century to the modern day Maggie we pass through so many different characters lives but all with similar struggles. Whilst sometimes being a frustrating read , I found Precious things to be an enjoyable read , but one the I would recommend you give yourself the time to get immersed in. Thank you Beauty and Lace for allowing me to read and review this great novel .

  9. This book did take me the full two weeks to read only because I found it quite a heavy albiet enjoyable read. I found that I was lost at times when the story reverted back to different characters which i know was important to the story. Maggie, I felt still hasn’t really found the answers she was looking for but I think she realised the beaded collar was not a happy collar as it appeared to others throughout time. I loved Maggie’s journey throughout the years up to now. Will Pearl continue the journey?Intriguing story with many different directions to follow. Quite a difficult story to review but to sum it up: enchanting, spiritual, mystic, romantic and imaginative. I do believe there is more to this story!

  10. Precious Things by author Kelly Doust really does deliver such a captivating journey about the things in life we hold dear, both material and emotional.

    This is quite an absorbing emotional novel about our desires, marriage and family. This story about how we so often reach out for things in life we desire so badly will take you to a place we all know well, only to realise that the most precious things are the ones we’ve had all along.

    Many readers will relate easily to Maggie’s character. I noticed Kelly Doust’s writing to be engaging and her research on family and relationships to be truthful and very honest. The more you read of this novel the more intense it gets and you will notice yourself finding it hard to put down.

    Precious Things by author Kelly Doust is very enjoyable read that made a real impression on me and will you.

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