Review the Book of Lost Fragrances by M. J. Rose
Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by visions of the past, her earliest memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up with as the heir to a storied French perfume company. These worsened after her mother’s suicide until she finally found a doctor who helped her, teaching her to explore the mythological symbolism in her visions and thus lessen their painful impact. This ability led Jac to a wildly successful career as a mythologist, television personality and author.
When her brother, Robbie—who’s taken over the House of L’Etoile from their father—contacts Jac about a remarkable discovery in the family archives, she’s skeptical. But when Robbie goes missing before he can share the secret—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind.
Traveling back to Paris to investigate Robbie’s disappearance, Jac discovers that the secret is a mysterious scent developed in Cleopatra’s time. Could the rumors swirling be true? Can this ancient perfume hold the power to unlock the ability to remember past lives and conclusively prove reincarnation? If this possession has the power to change the world, then it’s not only worth living for . . it’s worth killing for, too.
Oh boy. Okay so there was this movie I saw maybe 4 years ago, called the perfumiere where this boy who was obsessed with scent. It was set in the 18th century, he was born into squalor and thought that you could preserve soul and scent in perfume. So he started killing women to come up with the greatest perfume. Which was a collection of the greatest scent and could elevate him to a great and peaceful state. A bit odd yes, but I got it, and it was a great movie.
So when I read this books description I remarked that it was similar. And I was looking forward to it. I was disappointed. I was really disappointed in The Book of Fragrances. I just could not connect with Jac, and I couldn’t follow the twisting unclear, murky plot. I felt like reading it was like looking through a foggy lens, that was slightly out of focus. Just a snap in the right direction, it would have been like a light coming on. Just a bit of a personality change, outlining the plot just a little bit better, just a slight adjustment and it would have snapped into place.
I don’t know if it was that the writing was unfocused, or that the characters were not clearly defined, though both of those were problems, or if it was that the plot seemed serpentine, that it was circuitous, and once you get to one place and you think you’re finally understanding where the book is going, it suddenly twists into a different kind of book altogether. Its confusing and distracting, which is why I didn’t like it.
Overall Rating: C-