Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

The Perfume CollectorThe Perfume Collector
by Kathleen Tessaro
Hardcover, 464 pages
Released: May 14th 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Purchase: Amazon 
*A hardcover copy was provided by publisher in exchange for a honest review.
Synopsis via Goodreads:
London, 1955: Grace Monroe is a young newlywed, eager to make a success of her marriage. However, with her intellectual curiosity and her unladylike talent for advanced mathematics, she finds the routine of elegant luncheons and exclusive parties among post-war London’ s social set more tiresome than exciting.

When Grace receives an unexpected inheritance from a woman she’ s never met, she finds herself suddenly in Paris, embarking upon a journey to discover not only the identity of her mysterious benefactor but also the hidden secrets of her own past.

In a story that takes us from New York in the 1920s to mid-century Monte Carlo, Paris and London, Grace discovers a world filled with the evocative, intoxicating power of perfume; an obsessive, desperate love between muse and artist; and a trail of dark memories that may mean she isn’ t the person she thinks she is at all.

I absolutely love historical fiction and anything having to do with fragrances. So, the fact that the author blended both elements together was both intriguing and cleverly done. The Perfume Collector is beyond exquisite; exploring mystery, societal issues concerning women of two different period in time, and of course, the beauty of romance and how various scents come in to play with intimacy among other things. 

This story was truly a journey of self-discovery, and I was intrigued by every thing it had to offer. For one, the main characters. I liked Grace. My perception of the kind of person she was grew the more I read. Her personality came off as kind, accepting, but beautiful without understanding the meaning of the word and how she embodied that within herself. And towards the end you begin to see her character experience growth and start to acknowledge things she was apprehensive about in the beginning. I was happy that the author enabled Grace to breathe in a new found air of independence and come into herself a bit more. And as for Eva, well, I was completely taken by her. As oppose to the life of Grace, Eva's was no fairy-tale  She experienced the good and the ugly, and the fact that she overcame so much was just impressive. 

I enjoyed the time frame and moving from one to the other, getting the chance to learn about both women and establish the connection that became quite clear early on. The whole mystery of Grace finding out about Eva and the reason for her inheritance was really well written. By the time I figured it out I wanted to shake Grace and ask, "don't you see?" But her wanting to hold on to HER truth was evident throughout the pages, and the moment she caught sight of what was really real then it all gets even more interesting. 

I also felt very enchanted throughout the pages where the inspiration and mere conception of perfumes was often mentioned. The book is in fact titled The Perfume Collector so, the author definitely lived up to my expectations of bringing scents to life. Left me interpret this better (hopefully); the way in which fragrances were described so lavishly, exotically, just had me all caught up in the description. I could envision the process of mixing and creating, and even smell the scents as the scenes consumed me. Way to go Kathleen, I so want to drown myself in your other works after reading this one. 

Oh, before I conclude I must mention that I enjoyed the intimate factors of the story; from the 1920's leading up to the 1950's. Everything was well transitioned, perfectly developed, and breathlessly unraveled. Eva and Grace had so much depth and they both intrigued me. I could go on and on about how wonderful this book was for me and I strongly recommend you pick this one up. That's if you're into historical fiction and intense but delightful writing. Regardless, give The Perfume Collector a chance this summer. You'll find yourself lying in a field surrounded by exotic fragrances continually filling your nostrils (Imaginatively, that is).

About the Author
Kathleen Tessaro
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kathleen attended the University of Pittsburgh before entering the drama program of Carnegie Mellon University. In the middle of her sophomore year, she went to study in London for three months and stayed for the next twenty-three years. She began writing at the suggestion of a friend and was an early member of the Wimpole Street Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel, Elegance, became a bestseller in hardback and paperback. All of Kathleen's novels including Innocence, The Flirt, The Debutante, and most recently, The Perfume Collector have been translated into many languages and sold all over the world. She returned to Pittsburgh in 2009, where she now lives with her husband and son.


  1. Hi I was following you by Google + but I am now a gfc follower and Twitter stalker!!

  2. Wow! Sounds really good. The ability to bring scent to life where you can actually imagine smelling it? Awesome!

  3. This sounds like lovely book, I love reading historical fiction and learning something new from it, about the era, perfumes etc. Great review SHane, it definitely increased my interest in this book. :)

  4. This sounds sooo good. And I am glad you enjoyed it so much. Wonderful review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  5. I don't usually read much historical fiction, but after reading your review, I may just have to check this out. It sounds really god.

  6. I don't read a lot of historical fiction either, but I always love it when I get around to it! I definitely want to read this one now that you've raved so much about it. Thanks for a great review!

  7. Hmm, not something I would usually read but you make it sound great.

  8. Scent is an interesting topic and whoop! Historical fiction! Just read my first historical fiction last month (Maid of Secrets) and I think I'm falling in love with this genre :)

    Alicia @ Summer Next Top Story

    1. Oh its a lovely genre, the writing is just wow :) I hope you read this one soon.

  9. Wow this sounds like a gorgeous read! I love historical fiction, and the idea of scents playing such a big role in the story has me intrigued. Definitely going to check this one out. Lovely review! :-)

  10. Hmmm... I don't normally read historical fiction, but you may have convinced me to give this one a try! :)


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