The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
Publisher: Harper (May 2013)
Source: Publisher via She Reads
Formats Available: Hardcover, Kindle
Format Read: Hardcover
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.
Illuminating the lives and challenging times of two fascinating women,The Perfume Collector weaves a haunting, imaginative, and beautifully written tale filled with passion and possibility, heartbreak and hope.
My thoughts: Picking up this book I just felt that it was going to be something special. The cover made me pause and wonder who she was, what is she thinking about? She looks so put together, yet I sensed a vulnerability about her.
I absolutely devoured this book. It is the perfect mix of historical and contemporary even though the contemporary portion is still historical. Confused yet?
Told in alternating perspectives, Grace’s story takes place in the 1950′s where she is a young wife trying to pave her husbands way in the right social circles. Eva’s story takes place throughout the 1920′s as she roams all over the world.
A third character that plays a huge role in the story is scent. Tessaro takes the time to educate the reader about the importance of scent. Not only that which we apply to improve our own scent, but emphasizes the importance of our own fragrance that we so often try to mask. “Perfume should tell a story-the story of who you are, who you might be, perhaps even who you fear becoming.”
Grace is introduced to us and you can feel her uncertainty jumping off the page. You know that there is something going on in her life. Tessaro takes the time to slowly tease out the story hinting at bits and pieces of what is to come. Meanwhile the reader becomes more and more invested in the characters and their individual stories. The transformation that Grace goes through from beginning to end is truly amazing.
Eva was incredibly resilient and can teach us a thing or two about life and making it your own. She also serves as a reminder to take care of yourself.
Kathleen Tessaro does a great job developing her characters. After a period of reflection I realized that my feelings toward many of them shifted several times throughout the story just as they would if they were individuals that I knew in real life.
Is The Perfume Collector going to be considered a great literary feat, probably not. It will stand up as a wonderfully told story about two women making their way in the world the best way that they know how.
The Perfume Collector is one that I will highly recommend for quite some time.
© 2013, Teresa. All rights reserved.