Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: The Perfume Collector

I love to read.  You probably can't tell from any of my recent posts (I think the last time I mentioned a book was my review of Lean In last September), but its true.  This doesn't mean I haven't read anything since then.  But very few books survived the hundred page rule, especially because I've been pretty wiped out tired lately.

However, within the last month I took a sabbatical from my (two) book clubs and gave myself license to read any old thing I wanted! (Gasp!)

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro was the first thing that caught my eye at Target after announcing my sabbatical, and I gleefully breezed through it in under a week! (Although I bought it in paperback, at the time I hit publish on this review, the Kindle version of The Perfume Collector was only $1.99 on Amazon!)

Tessaro weaves the story of Grace, a London socialite in the 1950's who receives an unexpected inheritance and sets off to discover the identity of her mysterious benefactor.  Her search takes her to Paris, and vicariously to New York City in the 1920s, as she learns her benefactor, Eva's story and how it ties in with her own (albeit somewhat predictably in the end).

Throughout the novel, scent and sensory memory play a significant role.  Different cultural approaches to the role of perfume also feature without derailing the story with a heavy philosophical discussion.  For example, a Russian perfumer whose work Eve inspires scoffs at the growing Anglo-American idea of having a signature scent, preferring instead an arsenal of varied fragrances to suit different moods.

(Are you a signature-scent wearer, or do you go with your mood? I'm a signature-scent gal myself - I've worn Burberry Classic since 1999.)

This was the perfect summer read for a history- and culture-loving girly girl who wants an adventurous European vacation but won't get one anytime soon!  Tessaro's descriptions of stylish Paris and sparkling Cannes supplied plenty of daydream fodder.

Highly recommended classy chick lit!

Disclosure: this post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

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