Monday, May 28, 2012

Denyse Beaulieu: The Perfume Lover

So, I might be slow, but I get there in the end. :)

And here I am, finally having read The Perfume Lover and ready to talk about it. Or, at least try and talk about it.

The name of the book is certainly apt - it is about perfumes and lovers, sometimes combined, at other times trying to get to each other.
As you probably know (it's rather obvious by the sub-title, A Personal History of Scent) the book is about Denyse's memory being turned into a perfume, and the path that perfume in making takes. But it's not only that, it is a highly autobiographical and very personal narrative we dive into from the go.
And it makes you part of it. Which is something I admire in a writer. And the fact that it reads like a novel is just one more thing to like about it.

Now, I've entered the perfume world several years ago and since that time, I've been learning and sniffing and basically just acquiring more perfume knowledge each day.
That is why it came as a pleasant surprise how many more interesting information I found in this book - not only on perfume, but on many different things.

And then there were the parts I found myself nodding to - yes, I completely understand what duende is supposed to mean; yes, I am also finding it more and more difficult to be moved by a perfume (but that might be just stress in my case); I do see signs, or at least, hints as to what might be a good path to take in life (btw, is it a sign I was a witch in a previous life if burning incense makes me nauseous?); yes, other senses can evoke memories as well as the nose; the IFRA, and so on.

The book also made me long for days of the past I would never be able to live in, made me realize perfumers are everyday people with their jobs, it just so happens that the product of their jobs influences many lives, and that being French (or living as the French) means you will probably find lovers without any problems. :)

But, the most clear things that The Perfume Lover showed me were:

1) I could never be a perfumer even if I wanted to
2) My nose is nowhere near as good as I thought it might be
3) I want to live in Paris (ok, I knew that one before) ;)
4) Perfume library is a grand idea
5) I always appreciated the work of Mr. Duchafour, but now I really like him as a person
6) A perfume coming out with a book instead of a blurb makes you really get to know a perfume (and smell it better)

P.S. The cover of that book is just amazing and I was lucky to be provided with the book by Harper and Colilns (along with the sample, with review of that coming up tomorrow - hopefully).


  1. You made me run for my sample. And after re-smelling, i realized that I so want to read its literary soundtrack. Thanks for the loveky review Ines.
    I think I'm recovering my 'smelling-mood' just in time for Paris:-)

    1. Ha! If I made you want to smell the sample again, my work is done. ;)
      It really changes your perspective on a perfume when you have so much background on it.
      And I'm in the right mood for Paris as well, thanks to the book! :)