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The Precious One


The Precious One

Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary makes her living ghostwriting books. But this is one assignment she never thought she’d get: writing the autobiography of Wilson Cleary --- professor, inventor, self-made millionaire, philanderer, and the father who abandoned Taisy, her twin brother, Marcus, and their mother years ago. Her family was torn apart when Wilson had an affair with a young acolyte, who became pregnant with his child. He started his life over with his new family, leaving his old one in the dust. As Taisy starts doing research into her father’s past, she’ll soon learn that this behavior has been his modus operandi.

Much to her twin brother’s chagrin, Taisy decides to take on this questionable assignment of writing her father’s story. After years of seeking his approval and love, and being resentful of his new daughter, she realizes that this project, as difficult as it might be, could possibly allow her to put all the strife and anger from her past behind her. The impetus for the project seems to be Wilson’s recent heart attack, but could he possibly have ulterior motives for hiring his estranged daughter to ghostwrite it?

"Readers can’t help but put themselves in Taisy’s or Willow’s shoes and think of their own family’s conflicts. It’s sure to be one of those books passed from friend to friend with the confident recommendation, 'You will so relate to this!'"

An added incentive to accepting the assignment is the fact that her old flame, Ben, has recently moved back to town. Despite the many years that have passed, Taisy has never gotten over him. In her life, she has “loved just three men. One of them was only a boy.... The other was her twin brother, Marcus. The third was Wilson Cleary…brilliant man, breathtaking jerk, my father.” Perhaps by taking on this project, she’ll get to know and understand the man who had been such a source of anger and resentment, whose shadow has loomed so large over her family, and possibly even reconnect with Ben, who recently moved home after a broken engagement.

Wilson’s teenage daughter, Willow, is 16, and after years of homeschooling is just starting to attend the local high school. She grew up hearing only the worst (and invented) stories about Wilson’s older children and previous wife. With her beloved father’s health in jeopardy, her half-sister’s presence throws further stress into the already tumultuous situation. Add to that the rigors of navigating the world of high school. Trying to study and figure out how teenagers act proves challenging, but when a kindly English teacher starts paying a little more attention to her, Willow, who, at this point had been totally sheltered, has to decide what to do about this extra and possibly inappropriate interest. 

As Taisy begins to dig into her father’s past, she quickly realizes that Wilson Cleary is not the man she  --- or anyone else --- thought he was. He emancipated himself from his parents early on (telling everyone that they had died in a car accident) and basically reinvented a life for himself, worthy of his grandiose vision of his perfect life. So leaving one family and starting a new one is nothing new to Wilson. Despite being chosen for this project, Taisy still can’t help but resent Willow for all the time and adoration she never received from their father.

In addition to the revelations about Wilson, bonds form over time that Taisy never expected. She finds Wilson’s second wife, Caro, to be most welcoming and hospitable, and once she lets her guard down, Willow becomes an unlikely ally. Suddenly, bringing together their extended fractured family might not be so impossible after all.

In ANNA KARENINA, Leo Tolstoy famously remarked, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” With her fourth novel, THE PRECIOUS ONE, Marisa de los Santos takes on the thorny subject of unhappy families head-on. Family strife is a relatable topic, and so are the struggles her characters are experiencing. The most astounding thing is how the majority of them have the capacity to forgive and move on. Their generosity of spirit is the little surprise bonus of reading this charming novel. Readers can’t help but put themselves in Taisy’s or Willow’s shoes and think of their own family’s conflicts. It’s sure to be one of those books passed from friend to friend with the confident recommendation, “You will so relate to this!”

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on March 26, 2015

The Precious One
by Marisa de los Santos

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2015
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 006167091X
  • ISBN-13: 9780061670916