An inheritance from a mysterious stranger . . .
An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank of Paris . . . And three exquisite perfumes that hold a memory . . . and a secret
London, 1955: Grace Monroe is a fortunate young woman. Despite her sheltered upbringing in Oxford, her recent marriage has thrust her into the heart of London’s most refined and ambitious social circles. However, playing the role of the sophisticated socialite her husband would like her to be doesn’t come easily to her—and perhaps never will.
Then one evening a letter arrives from France that will change everything. Grace has received an inheritance. There’s only one problem: she has never heard of her benefactor, the mysterious Eva d’Orsey.
So begins a journey that takes Grace to Paris in search of Eva. There, in a long-abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank, she discovers the seductive world of perfumers and their muses, and a surprising, complex love story. Told by invoking the three distinctive perfumes she inspired, Eva d’Orsey’s story weaves through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London.
But these three perfumes hold secrets. And as Eva’s past and Grace’s future intersect, Grace realizes she must choose between the life she thinks she should live and the person she is truly meant to be.
Let’s start at the beginning of this book and by beginning, I mean the cover. How gorgeous is this cover? I fell in love with it the second I opened the mail. I can honestly say it was once that I may have petted a little. I felt the magic as soon as I got my hands on it. I’ve always been a cover girl, but it’s funny how tastes change as I age. I used to look for the ones with the bright, girly covers. I still love girly, but now I also love the ones that hold a bit of mystery and intrigue and are a little deeper.
The magic didn’t end there. Tessaro tells this story from two points of view. From Eva’s in the 1920s and Grace’s in the 50s. The back and forth in this novel is perfect. Sometimes it can be too much. Other times it can be too confusing. Tessaro, however, found the perfect formula to decade jumping.
Tessaro’s writing in The Perfume Collector is absolutely magical. In most books, readers are left trying to figure out what the plot twist will be. In some, it takes the entire book. In others, readers can gauge it pretty quickly. But how the author handles that realization is really the factor that makes a book a great book. Tessaro nailed it with this one. It didn’t take long for me to realize what this twist was going to be, but even after I figured it out, I couldn’t put the book down. I knew what was coming, but Tessaro already had me hooked. I had the what, but I needed the why and the how. That may be the journalist in me coming out in the literary world.
Along with a story line that I couldn’t tear myself away from, the settings were amazing. As I mentioned in another review lately, I’ve got my sights set on the world. The older I get, the more I love to read books with settings from around the world. Yes, I know these are works of fiction, but we all know how much research is done for a novel. I feel like I learn more about another country from reading a novel than any other way I am taking in info. London, Paris, New York. Enough said. Count me in.
The thing I think I loved about this book the most had nothing to do with the writing, the characters, the story. It was how it made me feel and how I came away from it. I’ve been on and off with writing for the past few years. I have a couple of books under my belt, another couple in the works. But, same with all my other hobbies, I’m phasey. Some weeks I write day after day. And then I’ll go for months without writing until I get a bit of inspiration. If you need a little inspiration in your life, pick up this book. Have I mentioned how magical this book was? It’s the exact kind of magic that made me want to write in the first place.
If you can’t tell, I absolutely loved The Perfume Collector. I give it two thumbs up and 5 out of 5 bookmarks.
Now while my review is glowing, if you want another opinion, don’t worry, my friends over at SheReads.org are always weighing in this month. Not only can you find reviews, you can also find a couple of guest posts from Tessaro herself, along with a special recipe.