Judith Starkston's Reviews > The Book of Lost Fragrances

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose
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's review
Feb 20, 2012

really liked it

What do modern Tibet, Cleopatra’s Egypt, revolutionary France, contemporary Paris, reincarnation, the Chinese mafia, the Dalai Lama, the catacombs, perfume production, and Greek mythology have to do with each other? Read The Book of Lost Fragrances and you will find out. Danger, deeply held beliefs, philosophical contemplations, broken hearts and unbreakable hearts, murder and theft: this book has a lot to offer.

All these strands take a while to lay out, and despite some excellent atmospherics, the opening chapters went a little slowly for me—background on myth and past life memories and other topics that I could have done with a bit more efficient introduction to, although they are all interesting topics. Then M. J. Rose introduced danger, and the thrill in the thriller kicked in. You do not want these bad guys coming after you—I won’t tell you who they are, that would be spoiling some of the fun.

On the whiff of a scent this book floats back and forth in time and memory. It combines the fun of a thriller with the allure of romantic historic settings. Despite the number of plot threads, Rose still has time to build complicated, conflicted characters. Jac, the beautiful, cynical woman at the center of the novel, comes from a long line of parfumiers from the House of L’Etoile. As a troubled teenager she rejected her father and his mystical beliefs about scents. She is determined to escape the violent visions she calls hallucinations that have haunted her life, and she devotes her career to uncovering the historical realities behind Greek mythology. But a dead man, an old flame still burning in her heart no matter what she wants and her brother’s dreams drag her back into this perfumed world. Love and loyalty are central themes in this book, and Rose gives them a sophisticated treatment, not an easy thing to do with such old stand-bys. The Book of Lost Fragrances offers a satisfying mix of food for the brain and pure entertainment.

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message 1: by Ioana (new)

Ioana Hmmm, sounds interesting. I have enough books on my TBR shelpf to keep me busy for a lifetime, but I added this one too :)

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