The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose
A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra—and lost for 2,000 years.
Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances—and of her mother’s suicide—she moves to America, leaving the company in the hands of her brother Robbie. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind. Back in Paris to investigate her brother’s disappearance, Jac discovers a secret the House of L’Etoile has been hiding since 1799: a scent that unlocks the mysteries of reincarnation. The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac’s quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.
The Book of Lost Fragrances is a captivating historical fiction. It offers a tale of suspense with paranormal elements, religious oppression and a romance that spans the ages. Rose masterfully blends fact and fiction as she takes us from the tombs of ancient Egypt to the catacombs of Paris. I was fascinated by the history and drawn to the characters.
Told from multiple points of view we travel from past to present as different groups search for the fragrance of lost souls. Believed to have been created by the perfumer of Cleopatra, this scent is said to help one remember their past lives. The main characters are Jac and Robbie L’Etoile. They are heirs to one of the oldest perfume companies in France; The House of L’Etoile. Their family business is in financial trouble when Robbie uncovers pottery with hieroglyphics. He asks his friend Griffin to decipher the ancient writing. When Robbie ends up missing and a man is found dead, Jac returns to Paris to search for her brother. Despite a painful past relationship, Jac and Griffin work together to find Robbie. We also meet a doctor who believes in past lives, Tibetan monks, a young man believed to be a reincarnated lama and members of the Chinese mafia and government. All of them are seeking the shattered remains of pottery. Each has a reason for wanting them and some of them will stop at nothing to obtain it.
While at times the leaping from past to present and the multiple POV’s had me re-reading the beginning of a chapter, I urge you to read on. This seems to be a trend in a lot of books I have read of late and Rose beautifully weaves all of these chapters and timelines into a tale I will not soon forget. The characters have depth and I quickly became invested in their tale. I found the history of perfume, Tibet, Egypt and France to be fascinating. I even stopped reading to goggled some of the subjects. I became completely engrossed in this tale and was moved by the outcome.
The Book of Lost Fragrances is scheduled to publish on March 13, 2012 and I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and suspense. Rose has twenty published works and I look forward to exploring more of her work. This novel will be available in all formats.
I want to thank netGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.
I gave this book 4 coffee cups out of 5.