The Perfume Collector-She Reads’ August Book Club


the perfume collector

The Perfume Collector

by Kathleen Tessaro

published by Harper


An inheritance from a mysterious stranger . . .
An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank of Paris . . .
And three exquisite perfumes that hold a memory . . . and a secret

London, 1955: Grace Monroe is a fortunate young woman. Despite her sheltered upbringing in Oxford, her recent marriage has thrust her into the heart of London’s most refined and ambitious social circles. However, playing the role of the sophisticated socialite her husband would like her to be doesn’t come easily to her—and perhaps never will.

Then one evening a letter arrives from France that will change everything. Grace has received an inheritance. There’s only one problem: she has never heard of her benefactor, the mysterious Eva d’Orsey.

So begins a journey that takes Grace to Paris in search of Eva. There, in a long-abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank, she discovers the seductive world of perfumers and their muses, and a surprising, complex love story. Told by invoking the three distinctive perfumes she inspired, Eva d’Orsey’s story weaves through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London.

But these three perfumes hold secrets. And as Eva’s past and Grace’s future intersect, Grace realizes she must choose between the life she thinks she should live and the person she is truly meant to be.

Illuminating the lives and challenging times of two fascinating women,The Perfume Collector weaves a haunting, imaginative, and beautifully written tale filled with passion and possibility, heartbreak and hope.

(from Goodreads)

My Review

I was very excited to start reading this book and I was definitely not disappointed!  The author has given her readers a beautifully written work of historical fiction.

This novel intertwines the stories of Grace Munroe, a young british socialite in the 1950’s and of the mysterious Eva D’Orsey, who has made Grace her sole heir.  When Grace is informed that Eva, a woman she has never heard of before, has passed away and left her entire estate to Grace, she travels from London to Paris, to learn more about her.

The author takes us through the lives of these to wonderful characters, bringing the setting of New York in the 1920’s and Paris in the 1950’s to life.  She gives us a wonderful cast of characters, especially Eva and Grace.

As part of Eva’s story, we learn about the art of perfume making.  I found this part so interesting.  I would love to have a perfume that was made especially for me-that takes my nature and personality  into account.  While I was in Bermuda last month, we happened upon a small perfumery, called Lili Bermuda.  They make only a handful of perfumes and they take you through each perfume and explain what the major factor is in the scent.  Being the best husband in the entire world, John bought me the one I loved called Fresh Water.  I love it, and I was reminded of that special feeling while I read this book.

I would definitely recommend The Perfume Collector!

Please head over to She Reads and see some of the other wonderful reviews of The Perfume Collector @


4.5 out of 5

English: Perfume urn in the Caron shop in Pari...

English: Perfume urn in the Caron shop in Paris, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King



The Bones of Paris 

by Laurie R. King

published by Bantam Books

September 10, 2013

I received an advance ebook through Net Galley in return for an honest review.


Paris, France; September, 1929. For Harris Stuyvesant, the assignment is a private investigator’s dream—he’s getting paid to troll the cafés and bars of Montparnasse, looking for a pretty young woman. The American agent has a healthy appreciation for la vie Bohème, despite having worked for years at the U.S. Bureau of Investigation. The missing person in question is Philippa Crosby, a twenty-two year old from Boston who has been living in Paris, modeling and acting. Her family became alarmed when she stopped all communications, and Stuyvesant agreed to track her down. He wholly expects to find her in the arms of some up-and-coming artist, perhaps experimenting with the cocaine that is suddenly available on every rue andboulevard.

As Stuyvesant follows Philippa’s trail through the thriving, decadent ex-patriate community of artists and writers, he finds that she is known to many of its famous—and infamous—inhabitants, from Shakespeare & Co’s Sylvia Beach to the Surrealist photographer Man Ray. But when the evidence leads Stuyvesant to the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre, his investigation takes a sharp, disturbing turn. At the Grand-Guignol, murder, insanity, and sexual perversion are all staged to brutal effect in short, gut-churning acts. Depravity as art; savage human nature on stage.

Soon, it becomes clear that one missing girl is a drop in the bucket. Here, amid the glittering lights of the cabarets, hides a monster whose artistic coup de grace is to be rendered in blood and gore. And Stuyvesant will have to descend into the darkest depths of perversion to find a killer . . . sifting through The Bones of Paris. (from

My Review

When I requested this book, I thought-ok, fun little mystery.  WRONG!  It was so much more.  There is the mystery, but it is wrapped in amazing layers of history!  The author makes you feel as if you are looking directly into Paris at the end of the 1920’s.  She introduces you to real people of the era-painter, singers, and authors.  As the main character, Harris Stuyvesant, searches the city for a young missing American, we meet and hang out with the famous artist Man Ray, singers Brictkop and Josephine Baker, along with Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, and Kiki of Montparnasse.   It is an intricate story, that unfolds slowly, but I found myself unable to go slowly, instead plowing on ahead even when I wanted to take a break.  I loved the way the author brought me right into the different neighborhoods of Paris in 1929.  You can hear the Jazz and taste the champagne right along with Harris.  As Harris comes to grips with the starkness of the Surrealist and Dada movements and the horror of the Grand-Guignol, you are right there also.

I really recommend this book-while it had some pretty intense parts, it was a fast read and kept my interest the entire time.  I really didn’t want it to end.  I hope the author, who also wrote The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (which is now on my TBR list), writes more books with these characters and in this setting.


4.5 out of 5


EXPATRIATES: PARIS 1920S (Photo credit: roberthuffstutter)