Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

  • The Book of Lost Fragrances

  • By: M.J. Rose

  • ISBN-13: 9781451621303                       

  • Publisher: Atria Books

  • Publication date: 3/13/2012

  • Pages: 384

  • Source: I received a free copy of this book as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour. This did not influence my review of the book in any way.

  • Synopsis:

    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 moved to America. Now, fourteen years later she and her brother have inherited the company along with it's financial problems. 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 becomes haunted by the legend the House of L'Etoile has been espousing since 1799. Is there a scent that can unlock the mystery of reincarnation - or is it just another dream infused perfume?

    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.

    My Review:

    I devoured this book in just about one day. It was easy to allow all of the sensory data, especially olfactory, to come wafting right out of the pages and entrance me. I think The Book of Lost Fragrances is a timeless story told in a new, wonderful way.

    Jac is a woman who works to keep her emotions at bay and her past in the past, but when her brother discovers something within the family's failing business, it begins to engulf Jac completely and force to confront the present as well as near and distant past. Jac's extraordinary sense of smell leads her to notice what the average person doesn't, bringing her suffering as well as heightened experiences. Her family's problems take the reader on a sensational ride through history and the present, from America to Paris to Egypt to China.

    I really enjoyed the levels of complexity and variety in this story. Through the emotions evoked from smell, we get to experience the lives several characters from different regions and time periods. Smell is the sense that most strongly activates memory in our brains. This fact is taken to an extreme in The Book of Lost Fragrances  when a certain perfume is able to allow people to recall past lives, not just their current past. M.J. Rose was able to bring together many fields of study: mythology, archaeology, the study of olfaction and perfumes to create emotions, and Buddhism. All of the separate fields coalesce into an imaginative and entertaining book.

    My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars