Rachel is a successful national news correspondent, but finds the news hitting a little too close to home when she is sent to cover the story of a missing woman in Brighton. Clara, the missing woman, is Rachel’s oldest friend, someone she has known since secondary school, and she soon finds herself embroiled in the case.
I made the mistake of accidentally reading a minor spoiler for Precious Thing while I was in the middle of reading it, and I think this ended up really affecting my enjoyment of it. The book is written in the form of a letter from Rachel to Clara, and although we don’t find out until the end the circumstances under which Rachel is writing the letter, it’s clear throughout the entire novel that she is writing it after the event; just about everything that is going to happen has already happened.
The themes that McBeth explores are interesting; looking at friendship, honesty and insecurities, she explores the idea that there is a fine line between a deep friendship and an obsessive, controlling one. Because we are only hearing Rachel’s side of the story, it takes a long time into the novel for the reader to understand that the friendship between the two women is not all it seems, and it has been some years since the two of them were honestly best friends.
While I found the plot engaging, and I was eager to find out what was going to happen next, I will admit that I found some of the twists and turns fairly easy to guess (even without taking into consideration the fact that I had read a slight spoiler). There is one major plot point that seems to have been signposted from fairly early on, so when it does come along, it’s not quite the jaw dropping revelation the author may have intended.
There’s also the slightly repetitive nature of Rachel travelling backwards and forwards between London and Brighton. For some reason, McBeth feels the need, most of the time, to describe the journey in the car, meaning that it feels as though we spend an awful lot of time on the motorway with Rachel. Nothing of note happens here, so it seems completely unnecessary most of the time.
Another annoying habit seems to be the need to describe the weather, to push home the idea of pathetic fallacy. Once or twice might seem clever, but when the weather is constantly referenced in order to mirror Rachel’s inner turmoil, it starts to get a bit overbearing.
All this being said, I did enjoy the book, and I did get annoyed when my train pulled into the station and I had to stop reading about twenty pages from the end. The characterisation is very good, and the sequences featuring Rachel and her mother are particularly well written; I felt desperately sorry for Rachel and just wanted to rush in and rescue her from her vile mother.
I was slightly disappointed with the ending, but it wouldn’t stop me from recommending the book to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller.
Precious Thing by Colette McBeth
First published: 2014
Book provided in exchange for an honest review by bookbridgr