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The Perfume Collector: A Novel Paperback – February 4, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,248 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Grace Monroe, a newlywed raised in the studious world of Oxford and bland English food, is completely uncomfortable with the glamorous parties and socializing her new life demands. When a mysterious French benefactor leaves Grace a surprising sum in her will, she jumps at the chance to leave her overbearing husband and London’s glittering social scene behind. What she finds in Paris, however, changes everything she knew about her past and has the power to change everything about her future. Tessaro combines Grace’s story with that of Eva d’Orsey, muse to one of Paris’ most famous perfumers and possessor of quite a few unusual talents herself. Sliding seamlessly between the 1950s and the 1920s, Tessaro depicts New York, Paris, London, and Monte Carlo with lush, descriptive imagery and admirable authenticity. Grace is a beguiling heroine, uneasy in her current situation yet hesitant to fully uncover the connections she and Eva share. Fans of Anita Shreve and Maeve Binchy will find The Perfume Collector a bewitching, compelling novel, full of dark desires, long-buried secrets, revisited memories, and new opportunities. --Stephanie Turza --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

The Perfume Collector is a crackling, beautifully paced story that weaves the world of fragrance into the lives of two vibrant women in a way few have experienced. Inhale deeply--a new way of telling a story of the heart.” (Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker)

“Fragrance, fashion, and a puzzling bequest lead a 1950s British socialite into a whirl of Parisian intrigue in Kathleen Tessaro’s The Perfume Collector.” (Good Housekeeping)

“A colorful, stimulating journey through time.” (Kirkus)

“A bewitching, compelling novel, full of dark desires, long-buried secrets, revisited memories, and new opportunities.” (Booklist)

“Dazzles the senses.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Beautiful imagery and prose are the strong points of this seductive story that paints the most bewitching picture imaginable of perfume creation and the muses who inspire it. The themes are brilliant . . . and likely to leave readers feeling awestruck by the end of this classy and unforgettable novel.” (Romantic Times)

“A mesmerising novel of passion and scent.” (Woman and Home (UK))

“This evocative novel spins you back a few decades to the 20s and 50s where a young bride suppresses her intellect to be the trophy wife her husband desires. She is devasted when he is unfaithful but could it be the making of her?” (Glamour (UK))

“Through vivid descriptions, lively mishaps and devastating details, Tessaro serves up a witty, original, fast-moving debut.” (USA Today on Elegance)

“Witty…proves that confidence never goes out of fashion.” (Glamour on Elegance)

“A compelling plot in a truly magical Parisian setting, fascinating information about the way perfume is made, and great secondary characters make this a charming read. . . . Readers of the works of Emily Griffin and Laura Florand will enjoy.” (Library Journal)

“A lovely tale of a young woman in London who receives a mysterious inheritance that brings her to Paris and eventually to an old perfume shop. . . . Sigh.” (NY Daily News, The Summer's Best Beach Reads)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062257846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062257840
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,248 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a pretty good story, but the editing was so poor that I found it quite distracting. Don't they pay people to do this kind of thing? Several friends found the same problem, and one said that she bought the book based on the beautiful cover! I find one or two typos acceptable, but this was a good bit more than that.
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Format: Hardcover
With an eye for creating and interweaving the threads of a story through the evocative and intriguing use of three classic perfumes, Tessaro manages to tell a story in multiple parts, from variant perspectives to leave an impression that lingers like scent on the air.

Introducing Eva at the end of her life, and Grace in the midst of her marital crisis: the intersection of these two stories with the rather obvious connection between the two lives is told through the story of three scents and their development: over several decades in each woman's life.

The one miss on characterization for me was in the two male characters that were prevalent in Grace's life: her husband and her Parisian Solicitor. Both could have enhanced their impact in Grace's journey with more development and strength of presence.

This is a fascinating look at the creation of perfume, and the elements that go into making that one scent that can trigger memories of those who encounter it. Additionally, Tessaro manages to make a beautifully evocative, if not particularly suspenseful story as Grace investigates Eva's past and helps to find her own new purpose in life. The story is easy to read and not particularly taxing to the reader as they are far ahead of Grace in discovering her mystery. If you have read and appreciated her books Innocence, The Debutante or The Flirt - you will enjoy this just as much.

I received an eBook from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Grace Munroe is an upper-crust British woman in post World-War II England whose confines of her class and loveless marriage leave her longing for escape. When she receives a letter notifying her that someone she has never met has left her property in Paris plus a financial bequest, she goes in search of this mysterious benefactor. Her journey brings her in contact with an intriguing solicitor, who helps her gain entrance to a boarded up building which turns out to be an old perfume shop. Living above it is Madame Zed, creator of the now famous scent "My Sin," who knew Eva D'Orsey, Grace's benefactor, and can tell her the real story.

Madame first encountered D'Orsey, then a young maid at the New York hotel housing players from the "Ziegfeld Follies," as well as other famous guests. D'Orsey inspires Zed's assistant, a taciturn Jewish genius, to create a perfume for her; later, after getting into the kind of trouble she was warned against by her employer when starting, she becomes the gambling companion of a British nobleman and travels the globe, then the assistant of the Jewish perfumer; and finally, the disguised nanny to her real, illegitimate child.

You can probably connect the dots of the plot by this description, and if you can't, you'll still figure out Grace's secret before she does. The novel deals with themes ranging from the conflict between genius and the society it must live in; the sacrifices mothers make for their daughters, and the treatment of Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris. It also has intriguing things to say about the creation of perfume: scents being the "custodians of memory." I enjoyed the book, though at times it hopped from viewpoint to viewpoint without giving the reader any warning. It taught me something about scent creation and kept my interest until the last page.
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