Title: The Perfume Collector
Author: Kathleen Tessaro
Source: from publisher for review
Review Summary: Although the ending didn’t tie things up quite as neatly as I would have liked, this was still an amazingly enjoyable read. Very well written with characters who were so real I couldn’t stop reading until I found out what happened to them.
Grace Monroe is an incredibly intelligent young woman, struggling with both her marriage and her expected role as a society wife in 1950’s London. When she mysteriously inherits a fortune from a French woman she’s never met, it seems like the perfect time to escape to Paris. Once there, she begins unraveling the dark and romantic secrets of her benefactor’s past and of her own.
First and foremost, this was one of those great works of fiction which leaves you feeling you’ve learned something new about human nature. The writing was beautiful, poignant, thoughtful, and don’t even get me started on how well the characters were written. (Too late.) All of the characters behaved like real people, sometimes surprising you with their selfishness and other times amazing you with their kindness. I found our protagonist Grace particularly relatable. I think many other bookworms will as well, empathizing with her struggles as someone who enjoys intellectual pursuits not always valued by society.
I also liked hearing about Grace’s mysterious benefactor. Both her story and Grace’s gave us a glimpse at a bygone era, made relevant by our empathy for these women attempting to gain control of their lives. The only thing that kept this from being a five star read for me was the ending, which I found a little weak. I would have liked there to be a more climactic confrontation between Grace and her husband, as well as a clearer idea of what happened afterwards. As is, I was still left with a few questions and feeling like not everyone got the justice they deserved. That said, I would definitely stay up way later than I should to finish it all over again! In particular, I would recommend this to fans of the classics, since that is the genre which I think is most likely to share this book’s human appeal.