The Perfume Collector written by Kathleen Tessaro
Kathleen Tessaro has written an intriguing book. It is filled with twists and turns that will surprise you around every bend. I especially enjoyed becoming totally engrossed in the past in one chapter, and then being jerked back to her book’s current day in the next. It really kept me focused and on my toes. You begin the book in Paris in 1934 and ultimately find yourself in Paris in 1955.
This is a relaxing, yet pensive read. You can quickly complete it over a weekend, or give yourself a break, celebrate the children going back to school, and read it at your leisure. And by all means et in a wonderful book club if you aren’t already. You will fall in love with the book’s characters and be caught up in seeing what happens to them.
Grace, one of the main characters, takes you with her on her journey of discovery. A mysterious letter — stating that she has been given an inheritance and must come immediately to Paris to collect it — baffles her. She is really quite startled and hasn’t the slightest idea who could have left her anything. The law firm involved even sends her the airline ticket!
You, along with Grace, can let your imagination soar. She does go to Paris and meets a lawyer that has been placed in charge of her case. But what really prompts her finally to go to Paris is her belief that her husband, who is conveniently gone on a “business trip,” is actually having an affair. So although truly broken-hearted, she allows herself to be cheered up, or at least distracted, by this unforeseen excitement.
Paris is everything and more than she expected. But when she learns of what she has inherited, she doesn’t just accept the goods and leave. She takes a “Nancy Drew” approach to the entire endeavor, and decides to find out for herself who left her this bounty, and why.
Along the way she meets Madame Zed, who is known as a “nose” and designs unique perfumes. Here you’ll learn that in the past, young innocence has been found but lost so easily, while mathematics ultimately saved the day and gambling turned out to be an unexpected savior. You will enjoy learning how all of this tangled web is resolved. You will unscramble the mystery with each turn of the page.
Then you’ll be surprised and enchanted by what Grace learns about Eva d’Orsey, another interesting but unexpected character. How can this woman be so generous, when Grace has never heard of or even met her? And unfortunately both of Grace’s parents have passed away, so she doesn’t have anyone to ask if perhaps Eva d’Orsey was a friend of Grace’s well-to-do family.
Depending on your present knowledge, you may learn a lot about how perfumes are made. This is not a subject in which I was well-versed, so I found it to be very interesting. I had no idea how very scientific the process could be, or what disgusting things are sometimes used to make scents smell so beautiful.
If you’ve never done something I’m about to propose, consider doing it. It is really fun to go to a perfume counter with a couple of close friends, or with your daughters, because you learn so much about other people by what scent they select for themselves. And it is interesting how you can smell a perfume on one person that will smell like an entirely different scent on someone else. For example, some perfumes can smell amazing on my daughter while they smell awful on me, and vice-versa. Makes me wonder also if what I think it smells like is what you smell too? (Yikes…)
Grace is originally from England and is very reserved. She doesn’t want a perfume that is “loud” just like she doesn’t want her food in Paris to be too flavorful. I’m guessing that we have all been in elevators where someone has so “dowsed” themselves with a strong scent that we are almost forced to hold our breath until our floor arrives. You get the gist, right — clothespin moment.
Kathleen Tessaro has written a lovely story that gives me a new respect for my perfume. I now have an entirely different perspective about my perfume scent. Most people in this economy don’t have the means to go to a salon and have a scent created just for them (certainly including myself)! But Madame Zed (the nose) comments: “Would you wear the same clothes every day, or eat the same things as everyone else?” She makes a point that I had never considered before.
I guess I never before equated buying a mass-produced scent (still sort of a luxury) with buying clothes “off the rack” (more like a necessity). Wearing one popular scent that you are sort of “known by” among your friends has always been fun! This book has made me think it might also be fun to have different perfumes that are suitable for different occasions, and for different seasons in your life. At least such “wishful thinking” is not at all expensive, even of acting on it might be!
So perhaps for a very special birthday or anniversary gift sometime, I will ask for a personalized scent that is created just for my pleasure. Such decadence! I cannot imagine what a perfumist would imagine that my personality and body chemistry would warrant. But regardless, it would be an interesting adventure for oneself. In the meantime, “Daisy” will do fine for me.
Kathleen Tessaro gets “4.5 tiaras out of 5” for her brilliant, thoughtful manuscript. I hope that you’ll “dab” on your favorite scent and put your feet up and enjoy reading “The Perfume Collector.” It is definitely worth your valuable time! And soon you’ll find yourself sniffing everyone else when you are back to real life in the grocery store line. (Lol.)
Blessings. anita of anitabook.com.