The Perfume Collector ~ perfume book review

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

…I easily imagine this perfume floating in the wake of a tall, slender brunette, whose moves are confident, who voice is accustomed to giving orders, and who fingers are slightly darkened by tobacco. She is one of those women who always wears a suit, even at midnight at the Savoy; one of those women captivating to watch at the casino in Monaco, who after having lost a sum of money, takes bills and a money order from a love letter hidden in her fine leather handbag, where they have taken on a pungent, slightly wild odor, and with great calm throws them on the green baize of the gaming table.

In her review of Chanel Cuir de Russie, Angela hoped the writer of this 1936 publicity text went on to a career as a novelist. In any case, author Kathleen Tessaro paints a worthy past for this Cuir-scented brunette with The Perfume Collector.

Grace Munroe is a 20-something newlywed, stifled by society life in 1950s London until a mysterious French woman leaves her a sizable fortune. Looking for answers, Grace travels to Paris and discovers the unlikely past of the woman behind a legendary perfume and the tragedy that unites them.

Tessaro deftly weaves between the rigid world of Mad Men and a Roaring Twenties that crosses Downton Abbey with The Great Gatsby. A light touch with the historical details keeps the book from becoming a hot mess of pop culture. That same light touch also works in spades for the perfume talk, which evolves slow and steady along each protagonist’s path.

While the plot is somewhat predictable and another round with a seasoned editor could have fixed some flaws, the strengths of The Perfume Collector more than make up for it. Every great perfume tells a story, and Tessaro does a fabulous job of setting one in print.


The Perfume Collector
By Kathleen Tessaro. 456 pp.
HarperCollins, 2013. $24.99.

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. Ericgmd says:

    No bookworms on this blog I guess…
    If there was a giveaway, I bet you would have had 50 replies by now.
    Very nice article Aleta and thank You.

  2. Bela says:

    Bookworm here. In fact, I’ve just spent two days at the London Book Fair and going again tomorrow. Working in publishing too. It *is* a very nice article, unfortunately this is not the kind of book I read. The perfume theme still doesn’t make me want to read it, I’m afraid.

  3. curlykitty8 says:

    This sounds absolutely lovely! I plan on reading it ASAP.
    Perfume and intrigue…what an enticing combination!

  4. JolieFleurs says:

    Another bookworm checking in! I very much enjoy the book reviews here.

    The perfume theme and your review are definitely enough to make me try a book I might not have otherwise considered..thank you!

  5. Rappleyea says:

    Another bookworm checking in. And this *does* sound interesting if it’s as well written as you suggest. Thanks for reviewing!

  6. bookgirl says:

    Fellow bookworm here! I will definitely check this one out. Thanks, Aleta!

  7. Arielle says:

    Nerd girl and bookworm – this sounds like a lovely read. Anything with a perfume connection and I’m there. Thanks for including this!

  8. rosiegreen62 says:

    I have this book on my library holds list. I am just waiting for it to arrive at my local library. Very enjoyable review.

  9. poodletwins says:

    Im adding it to my list. Still have to tackle the Perfume Guides though. Thanks for bringing it to my notice.

  10. Aparatchick says:

    This one has been on my Amazon wish list for a while. Thanks so much for the review!

  11. poodle says:

    Another bookworm. Perfume, mystery, tragedy, I’m intrigued. Putting it on the wish list.

  12. jepster says:

    I prefer to think of myself as a “book butterfly”!! I love to read just about anything….putting this on the list.

  13. Rappleyea says:

    “Book butterflly” – I love it! :-D

  14. Oh, I love to read. I’ll have to check this one out. I recently finished re-reading The Perfume Lover and the Alyssa Harad book. Both were great!

  15. nozknoz says:

    Going on my list – thanks, Aleta!

  16. hajusuuri says:

    It’s going on my list too!

Leave a reply