Book Review: The Perfume Collector

The Perfume Collector - Kathleen Tessaro

Book: The Perfume Collector


Author: Kathleen Tessaro


Genre: Fiction/Paris/Perfumer/Inheritance/Two Time Lines


Summary: London, 1955: Grace Monroe is a fortunate young woman. Despite her sheltered upbringing in Oxford, her recent marriage has thrust her into the heart of London’s most refined and ambitious social circles. However, playing the role of sophisticated socialite her husband would like her to be doesn’t come easily to her - and perhaps never will. Then one evening a letter arrives from France that will change everything. Grace has received an inheritance. There’s only one problem: she has never heard of her benefactor, the mysterious Eva d’Orsey. So begins a journey that takes Grace to Paris in search of Eva. There, in a long-abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank, she discovers the seductive world of perfumers and their muses, and a surprising, complex love story. Told by invoking the three distinctive perfumes she inspired, Eva d’Orsey’s story weaves through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London. But these three perfumes hold secrets. And as Eva’s past and Grace’s future intersect, Grace realizes she must choose between the life she thinks she should live and the person she is truly meant to be. Illuminating the lives and challenging themes of two fascinating women, The Perfume Collector weaves a haunting, imaginative, and beautifully written tale filled with passion and possibility, heartbreak and hope. - HarperCollins, 2013.



I cannot sing the praises of this book enough. Wow. What an incredible novel. I was sucked right into the story and it never let me go. If I had the time, I would’ve finished this book in one day. Not because it’s short, but because it’s written so incredibly well. I was engrossed from chapter one on and I hated having to stop reading for any reason. I absolutely adored this book.


The writing was incredible. It was deep, detailed, and it treated you like an adult. Tessaro doesn’t spoon-feed you or give you what you want to expect. She has written the plot in a way that you are entranced and you want to keep going and going. The mysteries of the story and the plots that tie the characters together are incredible and written beautifully. There aren’t any plot holes. There aren’t any strained plot lines or overdone characters. It’s really refreshing to read.


Eva reminds me of Coco Chanel in many ways. Even though Chanel was not strictly a perfumer, a lot of the details of her life are resonant within Eva’s life story. She’s a complicated character who you can’t help but admire, even with her faults. I love her as a character.


All of the characters are three-dimensional and I loved seeing them interact with each other. Strong characters and strong plot lines are certainly components she has a mastery of. I’d also like to compliment her on her description of the perfumes she has in the story. If she wasn’t an expert on perfumes before, I’m sure she is now. It would’ve been so easy to just give a general description of what the perfumes smell like, but she went above and beyond. She made the perfumes an experience and, I have to add, a set of characters in their own right, as they’re just as important to the story as the human characters.


I will definitely be checking out her other work. I love this story and I would recommend it in a heartbeat.


I give The Perfume Collector an A+.




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