The Scent Trail: How One Woman's Quest for the Perfect Perfume Took Her Around the World [NOOK Book]


A unique travel memoir, The Scent Trail charts a woman’s journey as she explores the magic and history behind the ingredients of her own bespoke perfume.

When Celia Lyttelton visits a bespoke perfumer in London, she enters the heady and exotic world of scent. On a London backstreet she is transported to a world made up of thousands of oils, unguents and balms — all hidden ...
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The Scent Trail: How One Woman's Quest for the Perfect Perfume Took Her Around the World

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A unique travel memoir, The Scent Trail charts a woman’s journey as she explores the magic and history behind the ingredients of her own bespoke perfume.

When Celia Lyttelton visits a bespoke perfumer in London, she enters the heady and exotic world of scent. On a London backstreet she is transported to a world made up of thousands of oils, unguents and balms — all hidden away in an old Chinese medicine chest.

And so begins Celia’s remarkable quest to discover the origin, history and culture of the many ingredients that make up her unique custom-made perfume. It is a quest that will take her from Tuscany to Morocco, from Sri Lanka to Tibet, from the peasants and farmers growing their own crops and the traders who sell to the perfume houses, to the “noses” who create the scents and the marketing kings involved in this billion dollar industry.

As Celia explores the mythology, history and culture behind ingredients such as jasmine, nutmeg, musk and ambergris, she paints a vivid portrait of this mysterious, sensual world, conjuring up the people she has met and the places she has visited on her scent trail.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

For globe-trotting British journalist Lyttelton, "scent evokes memories." Such memories from her childhood, when she traveled with her archeologist mother to distant countries, led her to embark on a quest to find scent origins around the world. Seeking her own "bespoke" perfume, she visits a London perfumer, introducing readers to the delicate art of composing a perfume, evoking, for instance, "a forest at dawn soaked in dew" or, more abstractly, a piece of music. With her own formula in hand, Lyttelton sets out to visit places where the ingredients are grown, hoping to meet the harvesters, encounter fragrant fumes and discover the secrets of perfume making. Lyttelton has a magical manner of blending words and sentences to summon up splendiferous odors amid her anecdotes, memories and historical research. Scented sentences permeate the pages as she takes the reader along on her "olfactory odyssey" across far-flung, labyrinthine landscapes, from the French Riviera and Morocco to Tuscany and Sri Lanka. Her enchanting escapades conclude with a glossary of terminology used by perfumers. (Feb. 3)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
A tantalizing introduction to the world of fragrances. A few years ago, British artist and journalist Lyttelton got the idea to have a perfume created for her. The memory of her grandmother's "rich peppery and rose scent," coupled with her own sense of adventure, inspired the author not only to have her own "bespoke" (custom-made) scent developed but to trace each of her fragrance's "notes," or elements, from their countries of origin to their finished state in her perfume. Lyttelton's journey started with a perfumer in London and ended with the arrival from the lab of her personal fragrance, blended from the exotic ingredients she'd collected: "granules of frankincense and myrrh from Socotra; Indian vetivert and jasmine; the finest attars of roses from Turkey; a mimosa absolute from Grasse; Moroccan vials of neroli and petitgrain; Tuscan orris butter; Sri Lankan nutmeg oil; and, rarest of all, ambergris from the Arabian Sea." The author's olfactory odyssey provides the perfect forum for presenting an encyclopedic overview of the history of perfumery and introducing the layperson to the wonderfully sonorant lexicon comprising the language of the nose. No other context would be so apt for her provocative description of scents-the "buttery pulverulence" of mimosa, for example-and fascinating assemblage of perfume-related trivia. "Napoleon poured an entire bottle of cologne over his head every morning," Lyttelton informs us. Later, we learn that "in the New Testament, Mary Magdalene anoints Christ's feet with spikenard; the repentant prostitute became the patron saint of perfumers." The author also conveys what she has learned about the cultural and literal value of her various scents intheir native locales. In Socotra, "toddlers had pouches of myrrh pinned to their bibs to ward off illness and evil spirits"; in Morocco, the very rich literally eat perfume, "so that their whole body smells of scent from within"; and in Tuscany, orris absolute costs about $40,000 per kilo, "three times more than its own weight in gold."Intimate and robust.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440688317
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/3/2009
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • File size: 490 KB

Meet the Author

Celia Lyttelton is an artist and a journalist. She has written for Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair, World of Interiors, the Sunday Times and Harpers & Queen.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

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    A wonderful journey

    Like a chef wanting to assemble the finest ingredients for a main course, Celia Lyttleton in her quest to craft her own original perfume, goes on an odyssey to discover the lineage of the specific "notes" (base scents) she has chosen to create the harmony of her own perfect fragrance. In her skillful narrative, the reader is plunged into the erotic, heady, and healing history of the spice trade and perfume industry. From the Iris fields in Tuscany, to the perfume factories in Grasse, to the spice markets of Egypt and beyond, Celia is the perfect guide to the nuances of exoticism and cultural textures, superbly captured and related into a vivid and evocative imagery. A remarkable book, and upon reaching the end of the story, ordinary life for the moment seems less flavorful.

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