Choosing selections for She Reads is more art than science. There are a million factors involved, many that we can’t actually control. But it all begins when a book arrives on our doorstep. The problem with this month’s selection, Kathleen Tessaro’s THE PERFUME COLLECTOR, was that no sooner had it arrived, it was stolen. By my sister. Never let it be said that books aren’t judged by their covers. Because they are. My sister absconded with the book because it’s gorgeous. (I do love red) The fact that it contains a dazzling story just makes it magic.
By the time THE PERFUME COLLECTOR finally made it’s way back to me I was dying to experience it for myself. And I was not disappointed. It’s everything we want a She Reads selection to be: smart, thought-provocting, emotional, compelling. Brilliantly written. Filled with secrets and memories and hope.
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London,1955: Grace Monroe is a very fortunate young woman. In spite of a sheltered upbringing in Oxford, her recent marriage has thrust her into the heart of London’s most refined and ambitious social circles, where alliances are formed and reputations made. However, playing the role of the sophisticated socialite her husband would like her to be doesn’t come naturally to her – and perhaps never will.
Then one evening, a letter arrives from a law firm in Paris. Grace has received an unanticipated inheritance. Only her benefactor, Frenchwoman Eva d’Orsey, is a complete stranger to her. Grace dismisses it as a mistake. However, when later that same night, she suddenly suspects her husband of infidelity, her world is thrown into chaos.
Fleeing London for Paris, Grace searches for information about the mysterious Eva d’Orsey. What she uncovers is the remarkable history of an unconventional woman who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers. Only Eva’s past and Grace’s future intersect. And soon Grace must chose between the life she thinks she ought to live or becoming the person she truly is.
Told in three distinctive perfumes, the story weaves through the decades, from 1920’s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris and London; revealing the complex, obsessive love between muse and artist and the tremendous power of memory and scent.
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Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kathleen Tessaro attended the University of Pittsburgh before entering the drama program of Carnegie Mellon University. In the middle of her sophomore year, she went to study in London for three months and stayed for the next twenty-three years. She began writing at the suggestion of a friend and was an early member of the Wimpole Street Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel, Elegance, became a bestseller in hardback and paperback. All of Kathleen’s novels including Innocence, The Flirt, The Debutante, and most recently, The Perfume Collector have been translated into many languages and sold all over the world. She returned to Pittsburgh in 2009, where she now lives with her husband and son.
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