Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

Past lives. Memories.Romance and loss. Secrets. Politics. M. J. Rose combines all of those in her latest novel of suspense, The Book of Lost Fragrances.

Giles L'Etoile, a perfumer, accompanied Napoleon when he opened a tomb in Alexandria, Egypt in 1799. It was there, at the tomb of a couple, wrapped together, that Giles recognized the scent of love. Over two hundred years later, the House of L'Etoile in Paris still created perfumes. However, Giles' descendants were never able to recreate the legendary scent, or find Cleopatra's book of fragrance formulas that their ancestor was rumored to have brought back from Egypt.

Robbie L'Etoile is doing his best to find that scent, but his sister, Jac, the one who has the perfumer's nose, won't help. She's cynical after turning away from family stories after her hallucinations following her mother's suicide when Jac was fourteen. It takes Robbie's disappearance to bring Jac back to Paris where she finds an old lover waiting to help her in her search for Robbie and the truth.

However, there are others searching for Robbie's secret formula as well. Robbie's search has caught the attention of the Chinese, the Tibetans, and others who are interested in the truth behind reincarnation. It's only the unbeliever, Jac, who holds the true secrets, though.

Rose's The Book of Lost Fragrances isn't an easy book to read with the complicated story lines involving China, Tibet, past lives and present troubles. It's evident that Rose has done extensive research on perfumes and their history. And, she adds history from various time periods, going back as far as Egypt. The history and legends involved in the book are fascinating.

I had some difficulties with Jac L'Etoile. With her cynicism and turbulent emotional issues, she isn't an easy protagonist to like. However, Rose skillfully brings all the story lines and characters together in a surprising, successful conclusion. It might not be the conclusion readers will hope for, but it perfectly fits the title, The Book of Lost Fragrances.

M.J. Rose's website is

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose. Atria Books. 2012. ISBN 9781451621303 (hardcover), 352p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I was sent an ARC of the book in order to participate in Rose's blog tour.


Tina said...

I too had some trouble getting into this one. In fact, I gave up and declined the review on Net Galley. The plot line just didn't click for me. Maybe I'll give it a try later.

Lesa said...

Some books just aren't meant for us, Tina. I've had books I couldn't get into when everyone else was raving about them. So Many Books, So Little Time. You don't need to go back.