When The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro showed up on the list of books that my Nook recommended for me recently, I decided to buy it based on the cover alone–I love that red coat! Then, I remembered that I often choose bottles of wine based on how pretty I think the label is and am often disappointed. Thankfully, this book ended up being a great choice.
When the novel opens, London socialite Grace Monroe has just learned that a complete stranger has left her a sizable inheritance. Shortly after receiving this life-changing bit of news, she also learns that her husband is cheating on her. Naturally, she then jumps at the chance to escape to Paris and find out more about her mysterious benefactor, Eva d’Orsay. The rest of the story weaves in and out of decades and through New York, Monte Carlo, Paris and London as Grace learns about Eva’s past and the role that she played in the career of Paris’ most famous perfumer. Along the way, everything that Grace knew about her own past is shattered and she begins to question how she will spend her future.
The connection between Grace and Eva was fairly easy to guess at the outset of the novel. But, Tessaro focused on interesting themes, including the powerful connection that scent has to memories and our indivdual stories, as she told Eva’s story in the context of the three perfumes that she helped inspire. The tidbits that she wove throughout the novel to explain the art of making perfume were also fascinating.
Prior to reading this book, I wasn’t familiar with Tessaro’s work, but I was pleased to see that she has written a few others as well. I look forward to reading more from her!