|(Thank you to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book.)|
An inheritance from a mysterious stranger . . .
An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank of Paris . . .
And three exquisite perfumes that hold a memory . . . and a secret
London, 1955: Grace Monroe is a fortunate young woman. Despite her sheltered upbringing in Oxford, her recent marriage has thrust her into the heart of London’s most refined and ambitious social circles. However, playing the role of the sophisticated socialite her husband would like her to be doesn’t come easily to her—and perhaps never will.
Then one evening a letter arrives from France that will change everything. Grace has received an inheritance. There’s only one problem: she has never heard of her benefactor, the mysterious Eva d’Orsey.
So begins a journey that takes Grace to Paris in search of Eva. There, in a long-abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank, she discovers the seductive world of perfumers and their muses, and a surprising, complex love story. Told by invoking the three distinctive perfumes she inspired, Eva d’Orsey’s story weaves through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London.
But these three perfumes hold secrets. And as Eva’s past and Grace’s future intersect, Grace realizes she must choose between the life she thinks she should live and the person she is truly meant to be.
Illuminating the lives and challenging times of two fascinating women, The Perfume Collector weaves a haunting, imaginative, and beautifully written tale filled with passion and possibility, heartbreak and hope.
Okay, so I'm thinking that historical fiction is my new favorite genre. I seem to be reading tons of those lately and loving each one. I think it has to do with being transported back in time to places that I dream about that really does me in. This time round, I got to travel to NYC, London, and Paris during the 1920s and 50s. And, I loved every minute of it.
Tessaro's lush and vivid descriptions enabled me to imagine the crazy debauchery happening every night at the Hotel (Warwick) where Eva worked as a hotel maid to the quaint, little bistro that Monsieur Tissot took Grace to after confronting her about her connection with Madame d'Orsey. I found myself slipping in out of time, as I read each chapter. One minute I was in New York reading about Eva's gift for numbers and patters, and the next minute I was in London where Grace was confiding in her best friend about her unhappy marriage. I loved getting to know both women through these alternating chapters - they seemed to flow together so seamlessly. Of course, their connection remains a bit of a mystery at first (although I figured it our rather quickly), which I think adds to the drama of the story.
And, what exactly is the mystery or the drama? Well, lets just say that Grace finds herself to be the sole heir to Madame d'Orsey's fortune and she has no idea who Madame d'Orsey is. Crazy, eh? And if that's not enough, she has just found out her husband has been cheating on her - well, she had her suspicions, but a night out on the town confirms it. Eager to escape her present life, she heads to Paris to claim her inheritance and find out who Madame d'Orsey was. Pretty, exciting, eh? Well, it is!
I found myself caught up in Grace's and Eva's stories. They were two fascinating women leading lives in a time when women were expected to either look pretty and attend garden club parties; or as in Eva's case, remain invisible because of their economic station. Told what to do, instead of asked what they wanted to do, these two women made tough choices that broke down internal and external barriers. Their connection is relative in so many ways.
I absolutely loved this book! Kathleen Tessaro has written an amazing story that I would recommend to anyone and everyone in love with historical fiction. You will not be able to put this book down!
For more reviews of The Perfume Collector, check out the TLC Book Tour schedule website here.