Scent and Memory – Guest Post by Kathleen Tessaro

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Kathleen Tessaro | @KathleenTessaro

Don’t forget that our online book club discussion of THE PERFUME COLLECTOR runs all this week. We’d love you to stop in and share your thoughts on the book!

Kathleen Tessaro

Kathleen Tessaro

Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by a half-forgotten but hauntingly familiar smell? Transported to another time and place by the whiff of a passing stranger’s perfume? Or perhaps been besieged by memories by the sudden contact with a loved one’s favorite fragrance?

Certainly I can recall being thrust into a state of vividly self-conscious pre-teen angst by an unintentional sniff of Love’s Baby Soft or enjoying the same golden inner sheen of optimistic freedom that was the hallmark of my years wearing Chanel’s Christalle.  

However, perhaps the most unsettling experiences come from the scents that other people wore; the eau de toilette of a ex-lover or the lavender soap our recently deceased grandmother favored can often hold unexpectedly vivid feelings.

Our olfactory sense is the most instantaneous and potent link we have with sensory memory. It connects us to our past in the most immediate, emotionally transparent way possible. And it’s this kind of invisible, ephemeral relationship that lies at the heart of my fifth novel, The Perfume Collector.  

In The Perfume Collector, we follow the fortunes of a young newlywed in 1950’s London, who receives an inheritance from a complete stranger in Paris. The stranger turns out to have been the muse to one of France’s greatest perfumers, and as our heroine uncovers more and more about her, their lives become increasingly intertwined.

These women’s stories are told through perfume and even though one of them is gone, what remains is the pure poetic essence she inspired.

Sometimes all we have left to cling to are our fading memories and the diminishing notes of a once radiant perfume. We must inhale deeply, before both evaporate forever.

* * *

The Perfume CollectorA remarkable novel about secrets, desire, memory, passion, and possibility.

Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor.

Weaving through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary women who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers. Immortalized in three evocative perfumes, Eva d’Orsey’s history will transform Grace’s life forever, forcing her to choose between the woman she is expected to be and the person she really is.

The Perfume Collector  explores the complex and obsessive love between muse and artist, and the tremendous power of memory and scent.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.


2 Responses to Scent and Memory – Guest Post by Kathleen Tessaro

  1. Tammy Trietch August 29, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    This was a book that I did not want to put down! I appreciated Ms. Tessaro’s building up of Grace’s character and her ability to become her own person – not an extension of her husband’s. Amazing storytelling and I learned a bit about perfumery!

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