Post by Portia
Lately I have been back reading books. For a while life was just too hectic and my head felt too full of whirling stuff to be able to fully give myself to a book. Thankfully life has calmed down to a mere roller coaster ride and I’m finding some space to get my read on. Books have always had a special place in my life. Mum & Dad used to read us to sleep every night and we were always told that when the world got too tough losing yourself in a book was an excellent cure. So, many of my books have been read and reread since my childhood and every time it’s like seeing old friends. Here though are a few of the fragrant books I’ve been reading this last few weeks.
Bookworm Portia: Fragrance & Novels
The Scent Trail: Celia Lyttelton
The Scent Trail: How One Woman’s Quest for the Perfect Perfume Took Her Around the World. I enjoyed this book immensely and Celia Lyttelton must have spent a small fortune going on this grand journey around the world, meeting amazing people who grow, harvest and distil the fragrant ingredients that she had made into a bespoke scent. If you ever wanted to know more about where the natural ingredients are sourced then this book will give you enormous insight. Every now and then I had to go back and reread a page because I was lost in jealousy at her great good fortune.
Jitterbug Perfume: Tom Robbins
I have had this damn book for years and would read the first chapter or two and put it down in bafflement. This year I was determined to read all the way to the very last page, and I did. Tom Robbins leads us a merry dance and the story of finding immortality through scent is spellbinding, once you push through the first few chapters. I find that after reading it I look back on it with more admiration that I had while doing the reading. Jitterbug perfume needs to be reread and savoured next time.
The Perfume Garden: Kate Lord Brown
To be honest my initial thought was that I would hate this novel. Turns out I couldn’t put the damn thing down. A story told across generations with simultaneous narratives from all the protagonists, happening over a 70 year period. Basically a couple of love stories and a family torn apart by war. Mainly set in Valencia, Spain and there is a lot of fragrant talk because two of the main characters are perfumers. Really enjoyable, if slightly predictable read.
The Perfume Collector: Kathleen Tessaro
An estate, a perfume store, an inheritance, lost love, drama, found love. It’s all here in a very entertaining book. There is something about the writers style that irked me a few times but the story rolls along inventively enough and I ended up invested emotionally in the characters, though they are mostly only mildly likeable.
Two honourable mentions:
The Perfumed Sleeve by Laura Joh Rowland: A fabulously salacious murder mystery set in old Japan with a few fragrant references. Who knew old Japan was such a sexual hotbed of lies and deceit?
The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal: Indian widow and family nearly lose their family shop but the dictatorial oldest brother comes with his business partner to help. Few fragrant references but a cracking good read. My second reading, it was even better this time.
What are you reading?