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Friday, May 10, 2013


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Quite often in life, things are not quite what they seem...and life can throw you quite a lot of curves.  The Perfume Collector is without a doubt the best book we've seen of fiction in quite awhile by an author that we haven't read before.  Peachy Deegan gravitates towards the familiar, surprise, surprise, and rarely finds an author as captivating a writer as Kathleen Tessaro has proven to be in this great work.  From the first few pages this book will grab you and you will not be able to put it down as you become entwined in major drama.  And note, we do know a thing or two about perfume with over 1,800 product reviews in beauty up our sleeve...New for this season that you should check out are: 
Spray yourself while you delve into the depths of Grace's drama in this novel...oh how we love hearing of London, Monte Carlo and Paris!  We knew that the Warwick is different because they have the secret shoe show, but we had no inkling of the staff stories.  As math enthusiasts (best math teacher in the world: Andy Deegan!), we applaud the talents of Grace and Eva and girls everywhere-know it is cool to like and excel in math.  
As they say, perfume should tell a story...and our panelists rave:

As a book-lover, I read all the time - before bed, on the subway, waiting in line at the post office, etc. However, it's very rarely that I find a book so engrossing, so intriguing, that I find myself making excuses to find a few extra minutes to read - cutting phone conversations short, taking the local instead of the express, and so on. But Kathleen Tessaro's novel, The Perfume Collector, is just such a book! From the word go, I was drawn into her world, which encompasses a wide range of dates and settings, from 1920s New York to 1930s Monte Carlo, to 1950s London and Paris. We begin in 1950s London, where a young Grace Munroe learns that she's received an inheritance from one Ms. Eva d'Orsey, a woman that she's never even heard of! She travels to Paris to speak with the lawyers in charge of Ms. D'Orsey's estate, and ends up embarking upon a much bigger journey than she'd anticipated. Through flashbacks to Eva d'Orsey's past and Grace's inquiries into her inheritance in Paris, we begin to piece together the intertwined stories of the two women and their pasts. Throughout it all, the intriguing, intoxicating power of perfume provides a powerful through-line and a means of connecting the dots. The Perfume Collector is a thoroughly enchanting read from start to finish - the descriptions of the scents, alone, are tantalizing enough, and when matched with such a fascinating, complex plot, the result is one outstanding book! Two enthusiastic thumbs up from this panelist!

After staying up all night, mesmerized by the story of Grace and her ancestral tracking, I champion, and recommend this book to everyone. The storytelling is smooth, and engaging. The subject matter is a combination of historicity, fashion, mystery, and pathos. You'll come out of reading this book wanting to explore the world of perfume and scent, and never, ever take the power of ambiance for granted. With my own signature scent mentioned in its pages, I felt a part of the 1920's era that created and maintained the allure of French seduction in scent. The WWII touches are vibrant, and evoke an era that most of us don't know from actual memory, yet make us see Paris in a different light because of the neighborhood and environmental references in The Perfume Collector. Not so much dependent upon Grace, the heir to a mysterious dramatic past, but moreso upon the evolution of her being, and the origins that begat her, the story unfolds in layers, much as a well-bred perfume should do. Uncanny, the sights and sounds that come alive, from a past rooted in scent, the tale of Grace discovering her reality comes to bear in her present. Fashion mavens will enjoy the Haute Couture references, and Gatsby fireflies will love the scenes from the old Casinos. Combining elements of Upstairs, Downstairs, and Agatha Christie, Kathleen Tessaro has forged a firm place in literary history for her characters. I, for one, would love to read more about them. Wrap yourself in a luxuriant mood, and take your time reading this book. It will fill every moment with nuance and elegance. And go shopping for a new perfume. Now.

The Perfume Collector is an entertaining novel that also gives the reader insight on the perfume industry. The main character, Grace, is a strong intelligent woman who is not loving the life of a married woman in the 1950’s. She is hardly one to sit quietly during discussions or jump to the whim of everything her newly-wed husband needs. However, her life changes in an instant when she receives a letter informing her of her inheritance from a relative she has never heard of. So off to Paris she travels on a an adventure to find her real place in society and more about her ancestry. Tessero’s descriptive writing transcends you to Paris and leaves your senses tantalized. Jumping between Grace’s life and her relative Eva, you learn of two women’s lives and how their experiences shaped them into the women they became. From enduring relationships to secrets so deep you cannot wait for them to reveal, this book keeps you turning page after page. Learning about mixing perfume and the history of perfumers and the scents they created was stimulating as well. Overall a great read and perfect for women of all ages.

Whom You Know Highly Recommends The Perfume Collector! Start Your Summer Reading now!

Immersing readers in the intoxicating world of scent, THE PERFUME COLLECTOR (Harper/HarperCollins Publisher; $24.99; Hardcover; ISBN 13: 9780062257833; on-sale: May 16, 2013) traces the lives of two intriguing women through dual storylines that intertwine in stunning fashion. In this sweeping tale, author Kathleen Tessaro creates a sprawling canvas rich in period detail, one that travels continents and spans decades from New York in the 1920s to Paris in the 1950s, with stops in Monte Carlo, the English countryside, Nazi-occupied France, and London along the way.

In the spring of 1955, well-bred, attractive, and dutiful Grace Munroe is doing her best to be an asset to her husband Roger, even as she finds the role tremendously unfulfilling. Men like charming wives not clever ones, her best friend admonishes, but Grace has difficulty following this advice. Having been raised in Oxford by her academic uncle after the death of her parents, she feels like a gauche outsider on the London social scene, and her once-passionate marriage is on the rocks due to her inability to have children. 

When she receives a letter from France notifying her that she is the sole beneficiary to the estate of Eva d’Orsey, she is certain that there has been an error. She doesn’t know the woman and the name is completely unfamiliar. But the discovery of Roger’s infidelity with a glamorous acquaintance leaves her in turmoil so spontaneously she jets off to Paris to resolve this case of mistaken identity.

Edouard Tissot, Eva’s dashing French lawyer, assures the reluctant heiress that she is indeed the right Grace Munroe and explains that the bequest includes the proceeds from the sale of a lavish apartment as well as vast portfolio of stocks. He tells Grace that his client, the longtime mistress of a recently deceased cosmetics tycoon, wanted her to have financial independence—and stipulated that she receive the inheritance in person and on her own. With no answers and so many questions, Grace refuses to simply accept the money without understanding more about her mysterious benefactor. Although Edouard has been instructed by his firm to wrap 
up the matter as quickly as possible, he is captivated by Grace and insists on helping her with this investigation. 

The trail leads to a deserted perfumery where she meets Madame Zed, an embittered Russian √©migr√© who introduces Grace to the magic of perfume, with its unique language and its potent ability to transport, overwhelm, unlock memories, and evoke a breathtaking range of emotions. Reluctantly, this retired legend also shares her version of Eva’s history, a story that began in 1927 in a posh New York hotel where, as an orphaned teenager with a fierce mind and a steely resolve, Eva got her start as a maid and encountered the people who would shape her future, for better and for worse. 

In the wake of a devastating tragedy, she found herself indebted to a disgraced, alcoholic gambler who was sharp enough to recognize her value as his partner in the casinos of Europe. There, Eva reconnected with Andre Valmont, a struggling perfumer with a peerless talent. Theirs was an intense, volatile relationship, and together they turned him into a sensation with Eva serving as his muse and his greatest source of inspiration. But then events interceded with enduring reverberations…

Ultimately the shocking truth that emerges about Eva and her legacy challenges everything that Grace believes about herself, and these astonishing revelations about the past provide her with a new path forward—if she chooses to take it. At once epic and intimate, this altogether spellbinding novel features an unforgettable cast of characters, enthralling plot twists and turns, and a strong sense of place as it offers a thoughtful meditation on self-realization, second chances, and the transcendent power of fragrance.

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.


By Kathleen Tessaro


464 pages/$24.99 Hardcover/ISBN 13: 9780062257833 

On Sale: May 16, 2013

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