The Perfume Collector was a terrific read.
I love books that takes place over the course of decades, and this particular one was deliciously plotted out and superbly told. The "forward" plot takes place in 1955. Sheltered socialite Grace Monroe is trying to keep her head above water in her social set and also, keep her sagging marriage afloat, but both come to a head when she attends a party and discovers during a game of Mister Memory that she's not been seeing the whole picture. And then...that evening, she receives an "inheritance from a mysterious benefactor," a women named Eva d'Orsey, whom Grace has never met. It's a moment that could have the power to change her life.
Enter the "back" story, set in the decades before. Alternating between chapters, we learn who Grace is and eventually, what her connection to the forward story is...and, all of this, scented in a backdrop involving the three distinctive perfumes that Eva d'Orsey herself inspired. Want to know more about the world of perfume and Paris? This book is soaking in it.
I enjoyed every minute of it. Although some of it slightly bordered on the slightly unbelievable (could so many coincidences actually occur in one lifetime?), hey! This is escapist fare! Just go with it! And plus, it doesn't hurt that the book is written by someone who is as graceful and vivid a storyteller as Kathleen Tessaro. I've never read anything by her, but I want to read more now.
Also, she had a thing about describing pubic hair on women. I didn't quite get that, but it really didn't detract from the reading. It was just a furry bonus.
If you're looking for a classy, well written, gripping read, I highly recommend this book. It's not a novel that will bring tears to your eyes, but it is one you won't be able to put down. This is not sentimental writing so much as it is sophisticated writing. Kathleen Tessaro is an author that writes in vivid phrases and provides subtle touches in her writing that bring the story to life and that one has a tendency to marvel over. Well worth the time spent.