The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 2013
Categories: Historical, Literary

Kathleen Tessaro

A remarkable novel about secrets, desire, memory, passion, and possibility.

Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor.

Weaving through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary women who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers. Immortalized in three evocative perfumes, Eva d’Orsey’s history will transform Grace’s life forever, forcing her to choose between the woman she is expected to be and the person she really is.

The Perfume Collector explores the complex and obsessive love between muse and artist, and the tremendous power of memory and scent.

My Thoughts:

This book was extremely readable. I’m not talking about easy reading, nor do I mean to call this book fluff. It was smooth. I’d read for an hour but it would feel like 5 minutes. It was that type of book. Smooth.

The main characters were almost opposite in their sensibilities. Eva was impetuous and brave. Grace was more cautious. It was interesting to compare the two. Their connection wasn’t quite as mysterious as I had hoped but it was still intriguing to journey with Grace as she unraveled the secret of her past. Both of these women were captivating.

Speaking of captivating? Paris in the 1950s! New York in the 1920s! I was enamored with the settings and time-frames. Seriously swoon worthy.

The passion for perfume in this book was contagious. I found myself thinking about the compelling nature of scent. Is there anything more powerful? The memories it brings with it, the way it takes you back to another time…ahh, fantastic.

What a pleasure it was to read The Perfume Collector. Do you plan on reading it? You should.

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains. ~ Diane Ackerman

66 thoughts on “The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

  1. This one seems to be getting a lot of press lately, and it sure sounds good! I love the sound of this one. I'm not a big perfume wearer, but I do love sampling scents and am always on the lookout for the perfect one for me. But what really draws me to this novel is the historical aspect of it. I do love historical fiction! Great review, Jennifer.


  2. I think I would rather go to Paris in the 1950's than go to Paris now – same with New York in the '20's. It always amazes me how much our senses can trigger memories. For me, sound is the most powerful. I can hear a certain song or a certain noise and I'm right back in the moment I originally heard it.


  3. You are soooooo right about the book being \”readable.\” After having read that in your review a few days ago (I skimmed before I finished the book), I can't get that word out of my head as a way to describe The Perfume Collector. I am not a fan of long books, always thinking, \”can't they cut out 100 pages and say the same thing?\” but this book, I could have read 400 more. It was soooooo readable! -Rebecca @ Love at First Book


  4. I totally get what you mean when you say the reading experience was \”smooth\”. It was that way for me as well. I liked Grace but absolutely fell in love with Eva. What a great story!


  5. As a slow reader I was worried about its size but it was \”smooth\” as you say. Ways appreciate a wonderful backdrop and his filled the bill a couple times over. I am so glad to be part of the She Reads Club to not have missed this read.


  6. I had no plans to read this book and didn't know anything about it until I read your review. Now I am very interested in this book and looking forward to it. The power of bloggers' reviews, and the value of them. I thoroughly enjoyed your review and have put this book on my tbr list. I love the setting, the mysterious inheritance and the perfume issue. I don't wear much perfume as I cannot really smell but I'd love to find a beautiful scent. This book intrigues me in that way, too. But it's your review and enjoyment of this book that really piqued my interest. Thank you!


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