Book Review: The Perfume Collector

August 27, 2013 4 stars, book review, fragrance, Harper Collins, historical fiction, She Reads 2

Written By:  Kathleen Tessaro

Published By:  Harper Collins May 2013

Length: 464 pages

Source: Publisher

This story of two women learning about themselves was captivating from the start.  Eva d’Orsey is a young girl/woman orphaned and left to her uncle in the mid 1920’s.  She begins working in the hotel where is works in the kitchen.  It is close to the theater and has a colorful cast of guests coming and going.  Eva is witness to a completely different world as a chambermaid. 

We are then taken to 1955 London where we meet Grace Monroe, married and living a rather comfortable but unhappy life.  When we meet Grace she and her best friend Mallory are discussing Grace’s stale marriage and going to a party.  Grace is convinced her husband is cheating, and also that this began because she is unable to give him the family he wants.  Grace then receives a letter from Paris, informing her she has inherited something from Eva d’Orsey, a woman she’s never heard of.

As Grace heads to Paris to meet with the attorney handling the estate of Eva, the chapters alternate between the Eva and Grace and the reader learns how Eva went from orphaned chambermaid to the muse of a great perfumer.  Grace learns bit by bit about her own life, and how she’s become stale and safe in her life.

The Perfume Collector is the August Book choice from She Reads.  One of the things I love most about She Reads is that it leads me to books I wouldn’t have picked up on my own.  While this book has a beautiful cover, and is Historical Fiction, two things that I love, but I know I would have just passed it by, foolishly!

I became invested in both Eva and Grace, but I have to say that Eva captured my heart most.  A young woman who opens her mind to the things she can become.  She takes advantage of opportunities, even those that may be poor choices in the long term.  Her determination to be more is what I loved. This story included history, moral changes, fashion and the rather risque lifestyles of some in the roaring 20’s and 30’s. 

I’ve given this book 4 stars.  The foreshadowing was fairly transparent and I’d suspected the startling news that is revealed in the book.  I loved the stories, and the way Tessaro details the scents of the perfumes that are created.  I wanted to become lost in beautiful fragrances.  I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction. 

2 Responses to “Book Review: The Perfume Collector”

  1. Sandy Nawrot

    I loved the part of this book that dealt with scent, and the emotions and memory it evokes. I did feel like something was missing though, in the development of the women. They were both fascinating but I never felt like I knew them that well. And when their characters transformed, it just sort of happened. And you are right, it was a very predictable outcome.

  2. Utah Mom

    I had an opportunity to review it earlier and passed. I’m so glad I got to read it with She Reads because I really did enjoy the story telling and the descriptions of the perfumes. Lovely review.

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