When my daughter first presented me with a book (by Penguin, not yet available or quotable) to read and review for her blog, I was excited. Then I saw the title: The Perfume Lover. I’m not really keen on perfume anymore, but decided to read the book anyway. Then I wondered, “Is it going to be a novel, a memoir or history text?”
As it turns out, The Perfume Lover is a bit of all the above. Ms. Beaulieu’s prologue contains the most powerful descriptions of scent I have ever inhaled. Although her book has great potential as a sensual novel, this book is actually the story of how she came to collaborate with a top French perfumer to create the intense fragrance “Seville à l’aube” (a sample bottle is included). This pursuit seems totally logical for someone who grew up in a house in Montreal, where fragrance is strictly forbidden.
Definitely a history of scent, even textbook-y at times, The Perfume Lover revewals how and why perfume is made. Did you know that the original perfumers were glove-makers and apothecaries? (I didn’t either.) Although her own lovers are given only nicknames like ‘Tomcat’ and ‘Monsieur’ in this book, Ms. Beaulieu names the who’s who in the perfume industry.
While her prose is very intellectual, her personal comments are a hoot. I totally identified with her mother, for example, when Denyse comments that her mom uses expensive perfume solely as air fresheners.
Even though I’m not crazy about perfume, I came to appreciate the “blood, sweat, and tears” that quite literally go into the creation of perfume. The author also wants us to realize that perfumery is an art form. I recommend this book because of its exquisite prose, and because it’s a unique read. You will learn what “tweaking the mods” means, and what components actually go into a perfume (you will be shocked!)
—Gloria for Everything-Beautiful
———-Erica’s Note: I smelled the perfume (and now using it) and it’s amazing! Curious to know how something so sensually uplifting can be created…