When I was approached to join the blog tour for The Book of Lost Fragrances, I was intrigued to say the least. Historical adventure and mystery are pretty standard fare for me, but historical fiction centered around fragrance? That was definitely a new one. Egged on by my curiosity and the interesting cover of this novel, I dove right in and immersed myself in the search for this mysterious fragrance.
Jac L’Etoile has had a complicated past. The heir to a famous French perfume company, Jac seeks to leave this past behind, which included her mother’s suicide, and make a new start in America. Unfortunately for her, it is not to be. After leaving for America she leaves the company in her brother Robbie’s capable hands. However, she receives notice that not only did Robbie make a startling discovery in the family archives once Jac left, but he is now missing and a dead body has been found in his stead! Traveling back to Paris to find her brother, Jac discovers a secret perfume that has been in the L’Etoile family for centuries. This fragrance has the ability to elucidate the mystery of reincarnation, and has a history that is more exciting than any history book. Now, not only does Jac seek to find her brother, but she also finds herself in hot pursuit of this intriguing fragrance that people have literally died over. Will she be able to find her brother and unlock the mysteries shrouded by this secret fragrance?
What struck me most about Rose’s work is her writing style. The fluid and descriptive manner of her writing flows as easily as the descriptions of the fragrance and its exotic components. It’s almost as if her style was fitted perfectly to the subject matter, making the two dovetail into each other. Another interesting component of Rose’s writing was how well the subject matter was covered. It was quite obvious that she did a ton of homework on the subject, with the history thoroughly covered and the fragrance sections told in wonderful detail. My sense of smell became an active part of reading this novel, because after all, what would a book about a perfume be without a sense of smell? The descriptors of the fragrances were incredibly complex and varied, giving me a window into the complexities that are introduced when crafting a fragrance. The different notes were described almost like one would describe the complex flavors of a wine, with loving detail and luxury.
All in all, paring this new subject I had not encountered before with something as familiar to me as historical fiction worked out better than I could have expected. The plot lines of past and present day in the novel were stitched together seamlessly, and I have to give Rose a good deal of credit for her abilities in storyline construction as well. All in all, a very solid effort that left me wanting to learn more about fragrances and their connections to the past. Definitely worth a read!
5 out of 5 stars
This is my twelfth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
The Book of Lost Fragrances by M. J. Rose
Atria Books (2012)
Paperback: 384 pages
Special thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for my review copy! I’m just one stop on the blog tour for The Book of Lost Fragrances! You can check out all the other stops here! For those of you on Twitter, follow the hashtag: #LostFragrancesVirtualBookTour