"The Perfume Collector" tells the story of two women - 1950's Grace Monroe and 1920's Eva d'Orsey. Newlywed Grace is having a hard time fitting in her role of a London socialite. Parties don't interest her, and she believes her husband is having an affair. Then she receives a letter from a Paris law office stating that she is the sole heir of an estate previously owned by Eva d'Orsey, a woman Grace had never met. She wasn't even familiar with her name! Not satisfied with just signing the legal papers, accepting her inheritance, and moving on with her life, Grace starts investigating who Madame d'Orsey is, and what their connection might be. Told in flashbacks, the book follows Eva starting as an orphan in New York City to her as an adult in Monte Carlo and war-time Paris, and tells how she became the muse to one of Paris's greatest perfumers. What Grace finds out about Eva could change Grace's life forever.
This book interested me on many levels. First off - who wouldn't want to inherit a ton of money from someone they didn't know? Apparently, though I don't know the details, the premise of this book of an unknown bequeathal was based on a true story. Secondly, as you can probably tell from the title, there is a lot of information about perfume in the book. Back in the day, it was considered gauche to wear mass-produced perfume. Ladies were supposed to have their own signature scents. And you wouldn't wear the same scent day after day. No - you had different scents for different events because why would you want to smell the same day after day? (Sidebar: coming from the perspective of a cheap triathlete who smells like chlorine or a gym most of the time, and who gets most of her perfume from Birchbox samples, this part blew my mind.) Also - they make perfume out of some crazy stuff like hair! Who knew?
I absolutely recommend this book. It was an easy read and while I'm generally not a fan of flashback storytelling, this one really had to be told in that format. Give it a shot and let me know what you think! And let me know what you're reading! I'm always looking for recommendations!
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