The Perfume Collector: A Novel

The Perfume Collector: A Novel

by Kathleen Tessaro
4.4 254

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The Perfume Collector: A Novel by Kathleen Tessaro

A remarkable novel about secrets, desire, memory, passion, and possibility.

Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor.

Weaving through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary women who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers. Immortalized in three evocative perfumes, Eva d’Orsey’s history will transform Grace’s life forever, forcing her to choose between the woman she is expected to be and the person she really is.

The Perfume Collector explores the complex and obsessive love between muse and artist, and the tremendous power of memory and scent.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062257857
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/14/2013
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 9,442
File size: 772 KB

About the Author

Kathleen Tessaro is the author of Elegance, Innocence, The Flirt, and The Debutante. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and son.

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The Perfume Collector: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 255 reviews.
lucieparis2011 More than 1 year ago
An incredible journey through time, passions, smells and ambitions. A delicate and accurate portrayal of chosen women in the last century. This novel amazed and intoxicated me.  It reads like a police investigation to find out the reasons behind the legacy left for Grace by a stranger.  Therefore, an immersion into Eva's memories. An adventurous woman who begins her journey as a maid in a New York hotel as a teen, to her professional gambling life. She was also a muse and mistress to influential men. Full of unexpected happy or unhappy events. Full of memorable encounters. Full of devouring  and heartbreaking passions. A wonderful and moving slice of life! But also, a wealth of informations about odors and the manufacture of perfumes. On the status of women in the 20s to 60s. Women's relationship to money, to men in the prosperous and most troubled years of the past. A moving and captivating story. I was touched by these strong and vulnerable women who were not afraid to make choices... Lucie
The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
Note: I received The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro book as part of the SheReads network. As a non-perfume wearer, I must admit I was hesitant when I first read the synopsis of this book. Perfume? Muse? It all seemed, to be honest, a bit hokey. But because SheReads has yet to disappoint me, I forged ahead anyway. Boy, am I glad I did! Not only is this book anything but hokey, it is not really about perfume at all. While The Perfume Collector is carried by the undercurrent of the perfume world, it could just as easily have been any other ‘elegant’ collector’s item (books, thimbles, animal figurines, tea sets….) Rather, the story is about hopes, dreams, disappointments, loves lost or found, and family. The fact that the underlying theme of perfume could be easily substituted is demonstrative of the power of the characters and their stories.¿ Unlike most books that switch between timeframes, The Perfume Collector doesn’t hop between centuries.  The two stories often overlap in their timeframes, which added an element of mystery that I loved. Combined with Tessaro’s elegant writing style (which allowed me to fly through the 450+ pages fairly quickly), this book has landed itself near the top of my summer reading recommendations. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I bought it to read on vacation in Europe and I couldn't have picked a better one...the book goes back and forth from the present to Europe during World War 2. The characters are interesting and dynamic, and the storyline compelling. I didn't want to put it down and couldn't wait to get back to it at night or on the train. The only thing that I wasn't completely crazy about was the ending....I felt that it was anticlimactic and I was left feeling incomplete. Other than that, A+ for an overall great story line, character development and historical fiction book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lovely story about a muse, and the perfumes she inspired. Its a moving and touching story. You will fall in love with Eva d'Orsey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book over the holidays. It was easy to follow and I didn't feel the need to re-read a chapter to pick up on where I left off a day before. Unusual story line. I did enjoy it !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully told story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I started this book I wasn't sure what to think. The more I read the more I had to keep going. I ended up finishing the second half of the book in about three hours without meaning to. Its a nice, sensual and sad sort of story all at once.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eloquent, lovely novel which spans many decades across several characters. The language is beautiful, as is the slow evolution of Grace and Eva D' Orsey.  Not too heavy on romance, but masters the sense of attraction two people have despite several odd circumstances. Must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. The story is set in another place and time and depicts a lifestyle that is not often talked about. It crosses decades and social levels. There were times when I skimmed over the details of perfume ingredients just to move more quickly through the book. Overall, it was a good read...I was not disappointed...and I will most likely read it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You know you liked a book when you miss the characters after you finished reading. I found myself lost in the story and looked forward to picking it up all the way to the end. It was a great summer read.
sneps More than 1 year ago
An Excellent Historical Fiction Novel! I have not read any of Kathleen Tessaro’s book, prior to this one, so I read this book without any expectations of a particular writing style. From the beautiful book cover, to the first pages, I was hooked. I was a little confused at first, so I did have to flip back to the first pages to see who I was reading about. It starts with Eva and at the tail end of her disease, with the next chapter beginning with Grace-a socialite, who seems quite disconnected from her husband and social circle. It isn’t until Grace receives an airplane ticket with news of her being the sole beneficiary, that she finally has some direction and decides to embark on an adventure. While Grace leaves knowing her husband is having an affair, she somehow blames herself because of an unfortunate incident that happens to her. While there isn’t a lot of interaction and dialogue between her and her husband, the author does a superb job in showing what happens to Grace as she learns who Eva is. It is quite obvious that the author did extensive research, prior to writing, but it doesn’t come off with more information and less interaction. Rather, it enhances the reader’s overall experience with this book. There is so much detail, and Eva certainly has an extraordinary (while difficult, too) life. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the story, loved the characters, and admired the way Eva broke all conventions by her role as a maid to later being a shopgirl…with other roles in between! This is an absolutely fantastic historical book, that readers will love from page 1. Readers will want to know who Eva is, how she can smoke in the face of death, and how she bypasses barriers men and society place on women…certainly not meant for likes of Eva! My only desire is that the author would have included a little perfume collection to accompany this book! -booksintheburbs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was so fascinating from beginning to end! Very different from any novel I have read before. Im so glad i found this book! Don't miss it!!!
irishclaireKG More than 1 year ago
Rather predictable but a totally enjoyable read. 'Perfume Collector' is one of those thoroughly enjoyable novels where, even when you somewhat see what is coming, it doesn't make a bit of difference. It is so well written, moves so smoothly and effortlessly, and the plot/characters are so engrossing, you just sit down and indulge in one, long, sitting. Moving between three decades, the novel traces the journeys of two women in particular, struggling to define themselves and their identities in a time period where 'women's rights' was not only a radical new idea, but a terrifying concept as well. What is also fascinating here is the information on the art behind truly great perfumers: what goes into creating classic, signature scents, the genius/artistry is often demands. That information, in lesser hands, could have been presented in a dragging, boring way, but the author here handles it beautifully. The reader is not dragged down but intrigued by the information--tends to make you look at that bottle of cologne on your dresser quite differently.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great read! Beautiful, sensual, perfumed. I thought the ending was just right, although I'd love a sequel. Grace was intriguing, and I'd love to know what she did with her life! The perfume ingredients were so tantalizing, I could almost smell them. Eva was an extraordinary woman, and I cared about the both of them. Just read it, you'll be glad you did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Or blend as author intended fornatic but lacks those descriptions of a foreign country that makes you want to go there unpleasant people puts one off caring what happened orwhat might happen with the heroine chick lit without the chic
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved how the author merged two stories together, in the 20's and then in the 20th century. This was an interesting and moving storyline with characters that the reader cares about. It's a beautiful read.
njd315 More than 1 year ago
A novel that will introduce the reader to a world few of us know, the world of exotic perfumes. This narrative is intertwined in a story of mystery and vengeance, of love and loss, played out against the backdrop of two great cities, London and Paris. I loved it! The characters are so well drawn and so sympathetic, they draw you in. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Read it in one day. The story goes from 1920's, 1944 andd 1955. It is about the life of a young French girl EVA who comes to America as an ophan and ends up as a maid in a NYC hotel. She is an innocent young woman who is drawn into a world of drinking, gambling and intrigue. The 1955's bring in the character of another young woman Grace who is connected to Eva. Good story. Would recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book so much. Imagine finding out about an inheritance yet not recognizing the name nor do you know who this person is. Totally intriguing.
LisaDunckley 9 months ago
What a wonderful book! I love books with stories within stories, and The Perfume Collector delivers in spades. The “outside” story is of Grace Munroe and set in 1955. Newly married socialite Grace has just discovered proof that her husband is having an affair, when she receives a letter informing her that she is the main beneficiary in the will of Eva d'Orsey, and needs to come to Paris to claim her inheritance. Except that Grace has never even heard of Eva d'Orsey. Figuring out who this mysterious woman is, and why in the world she has left Grace a luxury apartment and a portfolio of stocks is what blends the two stories together. Grace's marriage appears to be loveless, she doesn't seem to have confidence or know who she is. So I really liked the slow build up of Grace's power. Being in Paris, experiencing new things, the attentions of the Paris attorney, who appears to like everything about her—all of this was a delight to read. I loved the detective work to find out who Eva was. The book alternates chapters between Eva's life, mostly in the late 1920's and early 1930's, and Grace in the present (present being 1955 in this book). I thought of Eva's life as the “inside” story, the pearl in the oyster. Eva starts as a maid in an expensive and snooty hotel that caters to the rich, the glamorous, the famous and the infamous. She is not supposed to have any interactions with the guests, but she becomes involved with several of them, and this determines the rest of her life. Eva discovers she has a talent for math and for card games, and she is eventually taken in by an alcoholic gambler, who both uses her and saves her. Other guests who change Eva's life are Madame Zed, a perfumer, and her protege Valmont. Valmont becomes determined to create a perfume suitable for Eva (he is obsessed with her smell) and in doing so finds that she is gifted with the ability to make iconic and unique scents. He becomes another who both saves and uses Eva. The themes about the perfumes were fascinating. I feel like I learned about what goes into making a scent, and the different levels and layers and top notes. I loved how there were key perfumes created at different times that became integral parts of the story. This is one of those books that was so good, whenever I was doing something else I kept thinking about the book, and anticipating when I would get to read more: “I'll work for one more hour then I'll let myself read for a half hour” etc. I have purchased another of the author's books and enjoyed it as well—I'm now buying everything she has written (which is pretty much my highest praise possible for a book!) This is a great book if you like historical fiction, romance, or mysteries!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was good; the sub-story of the creation of perfumes was even better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book because it kept my interest Great story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in a couple of days. I know that I will read it a second time. Great story, I'm glad I bought it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed very much
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. I finished most of it in one night because it was hard to put down.