I’m so happy to be a part of The Book of Lost Fragrances virtual book tour! If you haven’t read the book yet, you really should get on it because it’s fabulous!
Be sure to check out some of the other blogs participating in the book tour and come back on Wednesday for a special guest post from the author, M. J. Rose!
RELEASE DATE: March 13, 2012
AUTHOR LINKS: WEB / GOODREADS / FACEBOOK
PUBLISHER: Atria Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
SOURCE: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, for review & tour
BUY NOW FROM: Amazon
A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra—and lost for 2,000 years.
Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances—and of her mother’s suicide—she moves to America, leaving the company in the hands of her brother Robbie. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.
Back in Paris to investigate her brother’s disappearance, Jac discovers a secret the House of L’Etoile has been hiding since 1799: a scent that unlocks the mysteries of reincarnation. The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac’s quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.
I’ve never really stopped to think about how smell plays an important role in our lives. The smells of freshly cut grass, or the smell of saltwater might remind us of summer, or the smell of a certain perfume may bring back memories of our mothers or grandmothers. Everything has a smell and we associate those smells with certain memories.
But what if there was a smell that could bring back the memories not only of your current life, but of your past lives? That’s what the basis is for M. J. Rose’s novel The Book of Lost Fragrances.
This is the story of Jac and her brother Robbie. They grew up around their family’s French perfume company, but as they grew, Robbie stayed with the company and Jac moved away from it. It isn’t until Robbie disappears that Jac has to go back to the place of her childhood to find out what happened to him. Through the course of these events, the reader is also plunged into a history of reincarnation — from that of the ancient Egyptians to the beliefs of Tibet’s people.
I did really like this book, but probably more for the descriptions of places and smells, than for the mystery. There’s a lot of mystery in this book and it starts to build up from the first chapter. While that’s a huge part of the book, Rose excels in her descriptions — if there ever was a book that could be scratch and sniff, I wish it could be this one. The descriptions made me hungry to just climb inside the book and experience everything that was going on.
When Rose describes settings like the ancient ruins in Egypt or the Seine in Paris, the words come across like a painting — you can see the whole picture in front of you, but you can also see each individual brush stroke and smell the paint itself. Images are so clear and beautiful that it’s like you’re right there in the story.
This book reminded me a bit of Ann Brashares’s My Name is Memory — another book that deals with reincarnation. I loved how there was the understanding that two souls would always be able to find one another in their future life.
The only thing that really threw me off in this book, interrupting the flow of my reading, was the incorporation of dates and times at the beginning of each chapter. I found myself flipping back to previous chapter headings to see where the next chapter falls. I think it worked most effectively when Rose was writing about another century, or a character in another country, rather than jumping from different times in the day. I thought the book would’ve flowed better without that.
And a personal preference for me, I wish that Jac had a more feminine name. Her full name is used later in the book, but I felt that the book was dominated by a lot of males that her name blends in. I also wish there was more romance, though there is some romance in the book.
All in all, this was a wonderful book. If you’ve ever been one to associate smells with memories, this is the book to read. Rose also included wonderful quotes by Proust and Carl Jung that drew me in right from the beginning, and anything that includes the mysteries of ancient Egypt is bound to be a winner. Rose is quite a wonderful writer and I loved how she managed to tie everything together in the end.
Full of mystery, suspense, and romance, The Book of Lost Fragrances is sure to leave you longing for that favourite smell of your past, and wonder if you can find the smell to unlock hidden memories.
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