Since I don’t wear perfume, I’ve never give much thought to the skill it takes to create a fragrance. Scents and fragrances can bring up past experiences and feelings from those memories. Can perfumes do more than evoke those feelings?
In her new book The Book of Lost Fragrances, M. J. Rose introduces her readers into L’Etoile family. Born into a long line of French perfumers, siblings Robbie and Jac are at odds. Haunted by the past, Jac relies on fact and evidence to cope with the world around her. When her brother goes missing along with an artifact that can unlock the mystery to reincarnation, Jac has face all the secrets she locked away to help find her brother.
This suspense novel isn’t just about the relationship between siblings. M.J. Rose takes the story through Cleopatra’s Egypt, modern day China, and post-revolutionary France. Since our From Left to Write members read Cleopatra last year, I was fascinated by Rose’s mention of Cleopatra’s lost book of fragrance formulas.
For a non-believer, all the talk about past lives and reincarnation may be a turn off at first. However Rose ties this theme of her novel to China’s 2007 edict that all living Buddhas must request permission to reincarnate. This edict was believed to be China’s way of controlling the Dali Lama, and in turn, Tibet.
I don’t want to tell you any more of the story because Rose deftly pulls together the characters and their memories. Or is it memories of their past lives? It’s clear that Rose has done her research for The Book of Lost Fragrances. From her description to a perfumer’s organ (a table with bottles of absolute scents for mixing perfumes) to mazes of Paris’ catacombs, I could imagine the scents in each setting as I imagine my character walking through them.
If you like suspense novels that will whisk you away to different times and different countries, I highly recommend The Book of Lost Fragrances.
I received a galley of the book for review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.