Review: The Book of Lost Fragrances

The Book of Lost Fragrances
The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very unusual book that draw you deep into the perfumer’s world. At the heart of it are Jac E’Toile and her brother Robbie,the heirs to a great and old line of perfumers in Paris; Griffin North, an old friend and scholar; and Malachai, Jac’s old psychologist, who helped her after her mother’s suicide. Jac has left the perfume house in Paris to the care of her aging father with Alzheimer’s and her brother, and gone into the study of myths in New York. She experienced a lot of “hallucinations” as a child, and Malachai was there to help her understand them and process it, although they disagreed about the source of the visions. Meanwhile, in Paris, Robbie was trying to hold the perfume house together without the necessity of selling off a couple of their top perfumes, which Jac wants to do. It has kept them estranged. He searches for a book of fragrances, supposedly with the secret to a perfume that will aid in remembrances, of past-lives. Robbie became a Buddhist and he wants to find the secret, so that the Dalai Lama can use it in his propaganda war with the Chinese, who have cracked down on reincarnations and the old way of finding the new Dalai Lama – finding a child who recognizes things of the current or newly deceased Dalai. Griffin is an archaeologist, an Egyptologist, and when Robbie finds a piece of broken pottery with hieroglyphics on it, and some scent still remaining in the mess that his father left, he brings in Griffin to decipher it, hoping the key to the perfume is written on the jar. But before they can get far, Robbie is attacked, escapes, but many are out to stop him, or take it for their own. Add in a young Chinese art student and you have a complex web of intrigue, politics, and ancient secrets, all blended together, with superb top notes,and a solid base to give a pleasing glimpse into the world of perfume. A nice appendix and glossary are attached to add some depth to the book. The only quibble is that the title, “The Book of Lost Fragrances” is really only a minor piece of the story.

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