The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro


Okay, I’ll admit it, I chose this book because of the cover.

The image on the front taken from the Vogue archives of a glamorous 1950’s vixen, dressed in pillar-box red from head to toe, sold me straight away on the promise of a decadent and feminine story set during the golden age of couture, in the undisputed capital of elegance:Paris.

If that sounds like something you’d like, then frankly that’s enough of a reason to read it, because it completely delivers on that score. If you intend to visit Paris this summer, then that’s your second reason. If you want to read a novel which promises to make your senses come alive, with vivid and delectable scents you can almost smell from the printed pages? Then that’s you sold.

The Perfume Collector is the story of two female protagonists Eva d’Orsey and Grace Munroe, as their lives collide after Eva’s death. Grace is (unhappily) married living in London, floundering in the glittering London social scene until she is summoned to Paris to read the will of the mysterious Madame d’Orsey, and the drama begins to unfold.

Do not read this novel expecting to receive an accurate depiction ofParis, however. It seems to endorse the slightly superficial and stereotypical impressions of the city, rather than revealing anything particularly original about it. Much more genuine is the wonderful description of the scents and perfumes which are threaded throughout.

Whilst obviously targeting a female audience, it is a truly delicious and sensual novel, and if you’re the kind of person that loves nothing better than to curl up watching a period drama, or if you can’t leave the house without a splash of red lipstick, then this is the book for you.

Kathleen Tessaro’s book is not earth shattering. It is not mind-blowing, and (I’m sorry to say) it is not the most original writing I’ve ever seen. It is, however, extremely enjoyable and a very easy read, and I couldn’t put it down. So whilst it might not be George Eliot, The Perfume Collector is certainly worth adding to your own collection. Put it right at the top of your holiday book wish-list. Or use it to take a break from Middlemarch.

by Alexandra Maher