Precious You, Helen Monks Takhar

Reviewed By
Andrea Thompson

Rocketing towards certain destruction, Katherine and Lily are two women that have little in common and nothing that they are willing to share.  Precious You examines the bitter and bloody path of female conflict that is born in the workplace but inevitably extends far beyond into the outer lives of its contenders.

Katherine is a magazine editor in her early forties who once considered herself someone who drove change in her industry.  Now that Leadership magazine has been sold, Katherine needs to accept that the new owners will have their own ideas of how to lift sales and re-energize an increasingly disengaged readership. Having served twenty years with the same employer, Katherine is feeling the pressure to shine at a time where she is still feeling quite vulnerable after a recent bout of depression. It is an uncertain time for all employees who survived the buyout, and the last thing Katherine wants to do right now is baby yet another intern.

Why would you bother to build someone up when you could climb over them on your way past?  Common sense tells Lily that pandering to her new boss, Aunt Gemma, is something she is going to have to perfect in order to wreak nepotistic benefits out of what is technically an unpaid internship at Leadership magazine.  Family connections have placed her there and building her own power base is what will get Lilly to where she wants to be.

Katherine senses what is on the horizon but does not appreciate how fast that horizon is approaching. So much energy needs to be expended on deception, such as Katherine convincing herself that her relationship with her partner Iain is rock solid, and that she still has it in her as a writer.  As Lilly incrementally inserts herself into all facets of Katherine’s life, the pressure builds.

Much of Precious You serves to illustrate to highlight the generational differences between Gen X, the sandwich generation, and their successors Gen Y (or millennials, as this age group is largely referenced as in this book).  Katherine refers to Lily’s generation as a bunch of snowflakes, and Lily is horrified by the workplace banter and casual innuendoes that Katherine delivers with little thought of possible offense to her colleagues.

The two women protagonists of Precious You alternate narratives. These are inner thoughts, though addressed to the other, so they run the full gamut of self-absorbed ponderings through to screamingly frustrating naivety. There’s more than one character that you want to shake by the shoulders as you read this book.

In its acceleration towards an inevitable crash, Precious You stomps all over the sisterhood myth in that we’re all here to extend a hand to the woman who is next in line. Katherine’s character is not stupid but definitely appears to be naïve in hoping that she would be able to form a bond with someone who clearly wishes to eliminate her.  Not only from the workplace, but from all the other aspects of Katherine’s life that define her. The agonies of very ‘specific humiliations’ that can only be delivered by those who have not yet done their time in the trenches is the key focus of Precious You.  We are meant to appreciate how unfair this is.

Precious You is a chilling read about the power of selfish entitlement, and the will to take rather than earn. 

Precious You is the debut novel for English author Helen Monks Takhar.  Precious You is published by Harper Collins.

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It all began when I met you, Lily.
Beautiful, dangerous, precious you.

At first Katherine dismisses her early-twenties intern as a millennial ‘snowflake': entitled, moralistic, soft. Yet as Lily's youth and beauty increasingly remind Katherine of everything she once had, she begins to develop a dark fascination with her new colleague.

But is Lily as perfect as she seems, or does she have a sinister hidden agenda? As Katherine is drawn into an obsessive power struggle with the intern, a disturbing picture emerges of two women hiding dark secrets – and who are desperate enough to do anything to come out on top…

With shocking twists at every turn, Precious You is a powerfully gripping story of obsession, revenge and deceit.

Review Precious You, Helen Monks Takhar
Andrea Thompson
Monday, April 6, 2020

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