Review: The Book of Lost Fragrances

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M. J. Rose

* Copy received through NetGalley.

Title: The Book of Lost Fragrances
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Imprint: Atria Books
Pub Date: March 13, 2012
ISBN: 9781451621303
Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances—and of her mother’s suicide—she moves to America, leaving the company in the hands of her brother Robbie. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.

Back in Paris to investigate her brother’s disappearance, Jac discovers a secret the House of L’Etoile has been hiding since 1799: a scent that unlocks the mysteries of reincarnation. The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac’s quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.

This was an easy and fun read, but very sophisticated and wrapped up in an alluring perfume. It's a long time since I enjoyed a contemporary fiction so much.

The main character is Jac L'Etoile, but the book follows many other people from different parts of the world and also from different times of our history. It might sound scary at first, but don't worry. The author managed to connect all the story lines into one big picture. It is very well structured and all the pieces fit together nicely in the end.

This is supposed to be more of a fun read, but it touches big themes. There are parts about Tibet and the Chinese occupation. It makes you realize (again) how sad it is to see someone who is systematically destroying other people and their culture just because of their beliefs. Nothing new for the human race though.
It also touches spirituality and the possibility of reincarnation. Reincarnation is actually the main theme of this book, which I personally like, as I believe in it. And basically everything mentioned in this book is in one way or another close to my interests and/or beliefs. Beside reincarnation there's a lot of mythology (Greek and Egyptian), some history, C. G. Jung, philosophy, and of course the artisan perfumery. But the beauty of this book is that you don't have to believe in anything, or be really into the things it talks about in order to enjoy it. You can read it just as a very entertaining mystery and you'll be happy.

The romance aspect of this book was amazing. I have very often problems to enjoy the romance part in many books for various reasons. But here the intimacy is portrayed so well. It is the intimacy between two people who belong together, the intimacy that is so strong and pure that it goes through all the layers of your being. Well, that blew my mind. This is how I imagine love, nothing superficial, but raw and painful emotions that capture you completely, body and soul. Yeah, I love that!

Different perfumes, incenses, and smells are intertwined throughout the whole book, and I feel like the writing is soaked with the smells as well. It kind of takes you into a different reality full of scents that wake up different emotions. And even though you are in a dreamy state, it makes you see things more clearly.

All in all this was very enjoyable mystery romance flavoured with spirituality and history. Both thumbs up! :)


Petra Poet said...

First I've heard of this. I like the sound of it. For the obvious reason I think of the book The Perfume, but this sounds like a lot more fun.

Safari Poet

Petra said...

You won't believe it, but I haven't read the book! And I haven't even seen the movie. Is it good? I was thinking several times about buying it, but wasn't sure.
And The Book of Lost Fragrances was really amazing! :)

Petra Poet said...

I read the book for school a while back. From what I remember it's very (very) descriptive, so if you like that it could be for you. It's also darker than I thought it would have been and I don't think anybody could have predicted the end. I've been wanting to read it again without the pressure of having to write an essay about it, so I can be able to say if I like it without being biased because I make a connection with it and the pressure of getting a good grade.

Safari Poet

Petra said...

I don't mind descriptive books. I like the idea that it is "darker". Yes, I know exactly what you mean with the pressure etc.

Bookie Bee said...

I've been trying to put this on hold at my local library for so long! Cant wait to get my hands on it!

Mara80 said...

Thanks for this great review. I have heard of this book. I think I am adding it to my TBR list. Thanks again.

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

How have I missed hearing about this book! It sounds simply marvelous. I'm off to add it to my wishlist right now!

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