Title: The Book of Lost Fragrances
Author: M. J. Rose
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 13 March 2012
Format: E-Book - PDF
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC from NetGalley
A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra—and lost for 2,000 years.
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. (Goodreads Synopsis)
Overall this is a very enjoyable book. I found the opening a little slow, but gradually I got into the story.
One of the things I loved most about this piece was the way it appeals to the senses, with detailed and sensuous description of smells playing a major role in the tale. I also enjoyed the historical flashbacks and the way they moved the rest of the story forward. The interplay of the ideas of memories and reincarnation worked very well and created an intriguing plot.
I would have liked a little more tension at times as I didn't always feel the 'grit' of some of the dire situations the characters found themselves in and I would also have liked some earlier shows of change in Jac's character as her about turn towards the end of the book felt a little sudden.
But these are minor complaints as overall I found it a very readable and engaging piece and it is one that should appeal to readers of both literary fiction and historical fiction.