Radikal Readings: The Perfume Collector


After immersing myself in such philosophically heavy novels as Night Train to Lisbon and The Name of the Rose, I decided to pick a lighter fare for my next reading. The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro was one of the recommendations on my Good Reads app. A book set in 1950s Paris and 1920s New York – what’s not to love? The perfume part didn’t hurt (I have a thing for it if you couldn’t tell by the picture).

Grace Munroe receives a letter from Paris, noting that she must travel there immediately to sign papers for a large inheritance that she has been left by Eva D’orsey. However, the problem is, she’s never met the woman. The book unfurls Eva’s story, while Grace’s intersects right along with it. We meet eccentric and sometimes down right crazy characters, like Madame Zed, Mr. Lambert and Andre Valmont along the way. The unsophisticated Grace is thrust into Paris. She tries oysters for the first time, has dinner with a man other than her husband, and samples some the of the most exquisite and rare perfumes in the world.

It isn’t a refined novel by any means, and much of it is highly predictable, but still I found that I enjoyed myself. I wanted to be Grace experiencing these amazing things in a brand new world for the first time. I wished I could walk the streets of Paris and take in the sights and scents. However, most of all it made me want to run to a perfumery and have a custom made perfume created for myself.

I loved learning a bit more about the different concoctions of perfumes and the many accords and notes that go into creating a certain scent. Tessaro has certainly done her research.

If Paris, perfume, romance with a little eccentricity sound interesting, this is a nice easy read to pick up. Be warned, you might also which to escape to a little perfume shop in Paris to have a custom made scent created.

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