The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

The Perfume Collector
I finished reading this novel over a month ago… and I’m still intoxicated by and dreaming of the story – or rather, the scents.

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro was recommended to me by my mom’s friend’s mom (didya get that?), who couldn’t stop raving about the novel when I met her for lunch. After we discussed a few more popular works of historical fiction – and I realized that her opinions of the novels we both read aligned with my own opinions more often than not – I decided to trust my mom’s friend’s mom and go read The Perfume Collector.

I loved it.

The Perfume Collector is a story that weaves through time, space, and scent… all while following two seemingly unconnected characters: Grace Monroe and Eva d’Orsey.

The story begins with Grace – an unhappy, newlywed socialite in 1950s London – receiving word that a woman in Paris, Eva d’Orsey, has passed away and left her entire fortune to Grace. Having never heard of Eva before (and therefore being totally perplexed as a result), Grace immediately sets off to Paris to figure out who this mystery woman was and why she left her fortune to a stranger.

While Grace is in Paris on her journey of [self] discovery, the reader is periodically transported back in time to learn who Eva was and why she left her estate to Grace. The reader follows Eva from prohibition-era Manhattan to 1930s Monte Carlo… all the way to World War II-era Paris… all while following Eva on her journey of self actualization; a journey which is woven in scents as Eva becomes the muse of one of Paris’s greatest perfumers.

You might be a little confused by my frequent mention of the word “scent”. No, The Perfume Collector is not a scratch-and-sniff novel… though it might as well be. Tessaro’s descriptions of scent – throughout the novel – are best [and only] defined as “intoxicating”. I would definitely recommend that The Perfume Collector be added to your summer reading list. It’s the perfect beach read (though, albeit, a little heavier of a read than your usual beachy Emily Giffin novel).