Sunday, October 13, 2013

Scent Of A Woman (Book Review: The Perfume Collector, Kathleen Tessaro)

I was instantly attracted to Kathleen Tessaro's "the Perfume Collector" because of its title. I am a collector of scents and I knew in my heart of hearts that I would love this book no matter what. I started reading the book, but for some reason or another, I just couldn't get into it, so I stopped. Cut to a couple of days ago, and I started reading it again, and I finally responded to the story. Perhaps because I just came from a European trip, and this book was mainly set in Paris and London. Or perhaps I needed to be at a different place in my life to fully appreciate the story. I find that as I get older, I find that I am more and more interested n historical fiction .In any event, I loved the book. It tells the story of Grace Monroe who gets an inheritance, out of the blue, from a woman named Eva D'Orsay. She has no clue who this woman is, and she travels from London to Paris to find out. Her story is paralleled by Eva's story, and we embark on the journey finding out. Halfway through the book, I kind of figured it out, but I also enjoyed the path it took linking the two stories together. I wish the resolution was a little less predictable, and some of the characters I thought I were a too two-dimensional for the sake of propelling the plot forward. I loved the way Tessaro frames the stories through vivid descriptions of New York, London, and Paris from the 20s to post WWII Europe. But what I loved most about the novel is how it wove perfumes throughout the story, akin to a separate character. I loved the fact that I learned a lot of information about perfume in this book, as it is a subject I am quite interested in. In particular, I loved how Eva's story can be linked by different scents throughout her life. The book is not an easy read, I thought. Some small integral details can be missed if you are not paying attention. The payoff is astounding: you will feel like you knew these characters perfectly, and in particular, it was quite rewarding to see Grace find herself. I dare say I discovered a little bit more about myself, too.

Eureka !  Found an interview of hers and her love of perfume:

Kathleen Tessaro on perfumer-interview-the-perfume-collector/

1 comment:

  1. A nice review; I love perfumes as well, but I make my own. I have dozens of little vials of oils which I combine for various moods. I don't like commercial scents any more because, having gotten used to pure oils I find the commercial ones have a chemical/synthetic odor akin to cigarette smoke or other pollution. I get a lot of compliments for my scents. Do you do this as well? I am an audiophile and can't wait to listen to what sounds like an enchanting story.