There are two things in this world that I love and that brings me so much joy in life and that is books and fragrance. Give me both in one, like Adria did with A Perfumer’s Secret and I’m a happy person. Her latest novel is a tale of family secrets, betrayal, love and a heavy dose of fragrant descriptions that will delight and awaken the senses even of a person who aren’t as passionate about fragrance as I am.
Zoe is a young perfumer; living in New York, who finds out that she has inherited something of ‘olfactory significance’ from a family she thought didn’t exist. Her mother has passed away when she was only a teenager, who told her that they had no family left. Of course, because of curiosity she travels to Grasse, France to learn more about this family, but the biggest drawing factor for her, as a perfumer, was the mention of the inheritance. She also learns, not exactly surprisingly, that she is from a well-known perfumer family.
Zoe finds that the inheritance is the formula of a fragrance that her mother has worn for years, every day of her life. But the formula was stolen from her and she can’t seem to figure out why. At the time of her travels to Grasse, she is also competing for the contract of creating a new fragrance for a big designer house. At first she thought her mother’s fragrance would be the perfect fragrance for this house and tries to recreate the scent from memory, but fails to do so, much to her frustration. Her mother was a very talented perfumer, who enjoyed creating unusual and special fragrances. However, as time drew on, she learns the story behind the scent and why her mother left Grasse.
Trying to regain possession of the formula and to find out who stole it, she learns that there are a lot of people who might possibly have had reason to steal the formula. What she uncovers in her quest of finding it, reveals her mother’s story of family betrayal, sacrifices and lost love.
Zoe, unlucky in love and a very guarded young woman uses the scent she created for herself the day her mother died, as her armor against the world. This scent, the ‘scent of tears’ draws the attention of Phillippe, a perfumer from Grasse, who is competing against her for the same fragrance contract. He is fascinated by her scent and spends time with her in order to be able to capture her scent. However, fate has another plan and the two fall in love with each other.
I am fascinated with scent, perfume or not and the descriptions of scent in this novel is so evocative that it made me want to spend just a little more time in my day to enjoy my sense of smell. The smell of my first cup of coffee in the morning, of freshly cut flowers on my coffee table and opening the balcony door and just savouring the smell of wet earth after a night of dew or rain. Fragrance has a way of brightening your day, if you just take the time to delight in it. And with these scented descriptions of the surroundings of where the characters finds themselves, Adria brings a new dimension and depth to an already lovely family saga novel that to me, was unputdownable.
Examples such as:
“Her mother created the scent of a cloudless sky in the month of May, of water droplets on bright green leaves in a rainforest, and of sunshine at daybreak”
The scent of jasmine was awakening with the intensifying heat and turned her stomach.
It really did make me want to open my bottle of A La Nuit and smell that familiar indolic smell of night blooming jasmine.
I really enjoyed reading this novel. It’s just the type of story I enjoy reading, packed full of family drama and secrets. The characters are all so relatable – from Zoe’s cousin, Louise, being the typical teenager with identity issues, the overbearing and controlling uncle Antoine, to Zoe herself. Zoe has grown so much in this novel. She came to Grasse, being the emotionally guarded young woman and by the end of it, Zoe has grown into a woman who could allow herself to open up, to feel love and finally set herself on the path of self-discovery and healing.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.