Book Review: The Perfume Collector By Kathleen Tessaro

By Jordan

The Perfume Collecto Kathleen Tassaro book review

I will not go mad as long as there is beauty in the world and I can be near it.

Featuring 3 perfumers, a windfall inheritance, and a missing perfume formula, The Perfume Collector starts slowly as it builds a wide base for the ensuring very tangled plot. In fact it starts so slowly that I wondered whether to continue. Was anything going to happen in this book at all?

An Englishwoman who suspects her husband of infidelity has to fly to Paris to meet a lawyer who reads her a will. She has inherited an apartment in Paris, a share portfolio and several mysteries from a person unknown to her. Almost halfway through the book everything comes together across several time periods in New York, London, Paris and Monte Carlo.

The character development in each historical period (1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s) adds depth as well as questions and answers to the next shift forward or backward in time. Suddenly I could not keep up and marveled at the intricate plot.

The Perfume Collector Kathleen Tassaro

Canadian Book Cover

She exuded the air of a woman used to spending her days glowing brightly at the centre of her own personal solar system.

With more twists than Interlude Man and more vanishing acts than Molecule 01, The Perfume Collector has predictable flyaway top notes, a heart of pathos and passion followed by an intricate, rich and very rewarding drydown. Average sillage. Longevity is just beyond the two day mark making it an enjoyable weekend read.

Enfleurage, perfume development, and scent memories as well as a seemingly abandoned Parisian haute parfumerie make appearances in this novel which will appeal to book-loving Perfumistas. I hope to spend another weekend with the yet-to-be-written sequel.

You can make your own mind up by reading the opening chapter on Kathleen Tessaro’s website.

The Perfume Collector Kathleen tassaro

Kathleen Tassaro

Amazon Kindle edition € 5,55
Amazon Paperback € 9,20

Editor’s Note: Thank you for this lovely review, Jordan. I loved Tessaro’s book Elegance, so I can’t wait to read this one! What about you? Interested?


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19 Responses to Book Review: The Perfume Collector By Kathleen Tessaro

  1. Dearests
    Congratulations on a beautifully written review Jordan, though I suspect its prose style will outshine that of its subject matter.
    I read ‘Elegance’ and found it rather wanting in the quality of its title, a first flick through the opening chapter on line tells me that this scented tale is not for The Dandy.
    Hey ho, I’m sure there will be another good novel with a fragrant theme one day.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Lady Jane Grey says:

    I need something rather “light” on my Kindle for the weekend in Salzkammergut – so thank you for the idea, Jordan !

  3. Alice says:

    Thanks for the excellent review! I haven’t read Elegance, but will have a look at both of these…on the hunt for things to load onto to my beautiful new iPad mini 🙂

  4. This book is going on my to-read list.

  5. annemariec says:

    Oh I adored this book and I’m generally a consumer of much more ‘serious’ books than this. I was completely fascinated by the scent descriptions and by the idea of Eva, one of the characters, being a scent ‘muse’ for a perfumer.

    All four main characters – Grace, Eva, Andre and Madame Zed – were beautifully depicted (I thought). (Not sure about the Lamb/Lambert character tho’.) I enjoyed the counterpointing of past and present in the novel. It was obvious after a while that the two timeframes would meet in the middle and that we would learn the (rather obvious, I guess) secret of the relationship between Eva and Grace. I so enjoyed that mystery, even though I guessed early. I think its Tessaro’s handling of telling detail that kept me intrigued and delighted.

    I also thought it darned clever to use develop Madame Zed as a character; she was a real perfumer and did indeed create Lanvin’s My Sin and some other fragrances for Lanvin. Not much is known about her, which gives the novelist ample opportunity for imagining a life for Madame Zed without risking getting too much wrong.

    Thanks for the review!

    • Jordan River says:

      Aha, well, none of that was obvious to me so I was pleasantly surprised time and time again. I did not know that Madame Zed was an historical character – nice touch and thank you for the information. Hope you have a nice serious book ahead!

      • annemariec says:

        Actually, tonight I’m re-reading bits of Denyse Beaulieu’s The Perfume Lover – so I’m not sure if that counts as ‘serious’ of not! (And there is another woman who acted as a muse, of a sort, for a perfumer.) I do also admit to being a classic crime fiction nerd. At the end of a long day, there is nothing more soothing …

        • Jordan River says:

          Yes I have returned to The Perfume Lover several times too and I am still surprised how many facts went unabsorbed on earlier readings. John Burdett for you, Bangkok series. If you like his writing there are several in the series.

  6. Diane says:

    Going on my list. Thanks! The last novel I read about perfume – that I loved – was M.J. Rose’s The Book of Lost Fragrances.

  7. Vanessa says:

    This one is already by my bed and up next on the to-read list. Enjoyed your beautifully crafted review very much and am even more keen to start it… I initially didn’t spot it was by you, and wondered how Birgit could find two days together to read a book at the weekend of all times! 😉

  8. brie says:

    No worries, B…it gets easier when they are teenagers as you are relegated to YOUR bedroom as they don’t want “the ancients” about in the living room as they watch the tele….plenty of time for uninterrupted reading then 😀 !!!!

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