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The Book of Lost Fragrances

(Reincarnationist #4)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  3,344 ratings  ·  743 reviews
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. I
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Atria Books (first published February 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  3,344 ratings  ·  743 reviews

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Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, arc
I enjoyed this book a great deal. I have a more than passing - okay, voracious - interest in all things mythological and specifically archetypal, this spoke directly to one of my passions. However, that is not by any means the subject of this work. Rose manages to incorporate mythology, psychology, reincarnation, Chinese politics, Tibetan history, the Chinese Mafia in places as far-flung as Paris, along with the science of perfumery, archaeology and metaphysical exploration into one surprisingly ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, bad
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: ugh. no one.
Recommended to Kristina by: Publisher's Weekly, the rats.
I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad book, but I absolutely hated it. Nothing about this book worked for me. I found the writing style to be awkward, graceless and annoying; the writer seems to favor melodrama and short, choppy sentences. Here's an example of both of my complaints:

There would never be any more sadness. Never any more longing, because they would never again separate. This act sealed their fates. They were two woeful halves coming together. Forming a whole that left no room fo
Edited 2/16/2012: One of my blog readers was kind enough to forward my review on to the author and she was in turn kind enough to provide me with proof that fantastical is indeed a word.

I stand corrected.


The Book of Lost Fragrances was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Simon & Schuster, Inc..
Expected Publication Date: March 13th 2012

Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!

2.5 stars


Jac L’Etoile escapes to America after the suicide of her mother. Her brother
Marie Z. Johansen
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit to being a long time fan of M.J. Rose but I think that this is her best yet, although I was, and am, a huge fan of The Reincarnationist. Ostensibly this book it is to be one in a series but I find that this is a solid stand alone book. MJ Rose has an excellent trailer video about the book on her website - and you also find information about about the Joya fragrance that was inspired by the book on her website as well..

This book has all of the elements that make heart sing when I
Holly Weiss
Dec 16, 2011 rated it liked it
A French perfumer is commissioned in the 1800s to recreate a scent formula from Cleopatra’s fragrance factory. It is believed that those who smell the euphoric scent find a portal to past lives. The Book of Lost Fragrances—part thriller, part ancient history, and part romance—surprises on many levels.

Martyred Tibetan monks attempting to prove reincarnation. Napoleon. Cleopatra’s secret soul-mate fragrance formula. A modern day near-bankrupt perfume company. The famous 18th century French L’Etoil
Mogsy (MMOGC)
A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Seduction by M.J. Rose to read and review, and I found I really enjoyed it. The novel was actually the fifth installment in a series called The Reincarnationist, and even though each book can be read as a one-shot, I'd learned that the protagonist Jac L'Etoile actually first appeared in the previous book. Long story short, I was intrigued enough by her character after reading Seduction that I was motivated to pick up its predecessor, ...more
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
M.J. Rose has cemented her reputation as one of our leading writers of suspense, fusing thriller elements with history and a fascination with how the past can affect and alter the present. While reincarnation themes dominate her past few books, including the brilliant THE HYPNOTIST, you don't have to be a believer to sink into her carefully constructed ambiance, often populated by damaged yet hopeful characters seeking redemption in an often chaotic and dangerous world.

Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up and put it down several times. Fragrances? Ancient Egypt? Yes, please. But… international intrigue? Thriller? Not my thing. But… fragrance as proof of reincarnation? Paris catacombs? Oh, what the heck. I’d give it a try. I’m so glad I did, because from the first lines of the book I was hooked.

Jac and Robbie L’Etoile have a mess to deal with- their father, in the grip of dementia, has sunk the family perfume business deep into debt. The only way out seems to be to sell the r
Diane S ☔
Oct 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Somehow or another, M. J. Rose has managed to seamlessly blend many different genres together and make it work wonderfully well. It is an adventure story, a love story and a historical story, taking the reader through the times of Cleopatra, the catacombs of Paris and the present day problems of the Tibetans with China. It is an entertaining treasure hunt, using fragrance and scent, instead of written clues. Absolutely brilliant!
ARC from Net Galley.
Jenny Q
Dec 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Jac L'Etoile was plagued by periods of mental unrest as an adolescent--haunted by vivid visions and hallucinations--and she's spent years trying to put them behind her. Even though the doctor who finally helped her break through specialized in studying children with past life experiences, Jac has always refused to even consider the idea that her visions could be memories of a previous life. The lone cynic in a family of romantics, Jac has distanced herself from the family perfume business and sp ...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

The latest page-turning stand-alone story in M.J. Rose’s Reincarnationist series. Fragrance plays a key roll in assisting the characters in accessing their past-life knowledge, which creates drama and intrigue in its thrilling pages.

About: Robbie and Jac L’Etoile have inherited their family’s centuries old perfume business that has been passed down through the generations since Napoleonic times. The once flourishing business is in a shambles due to th
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Katy by: netGalley
Disclosure: I received a free ARC e-galley from netGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 discove

It's a pity this book didn't come with scratch 'n sniff fragrances. I can hardly think of a book so dominated by the sense of smell, but should that be such a surprise for something titled THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES whose plot involves many-generations of a family of perfume makers and a possible tie to the legendary ancient perfume "recipe" commissioned by Cleopatra to evoke memories of a person's past lives?

At first glance, it seems an odd choice for a book group. The premise is rather un
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Judith Starkston
Feb 20, 2012 rated it 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,
Michelle Stockard Miller
Once again, I am fascinated and impressed with Rose's knowledge of reincarnation. By now, everyone knows about my interest and belief in the subject and I truly never tire of reading about it, whether it be in a fictional context or in non-fiction (although some may argue that it's all fictional). What I like about Rose's portrayal of the subject is her incorporation of it with history, as well as the current events of the day.

In this book, the fourth installment in The Reincarnationist series,
First of all, I hate it when I think there are 50 pages to go and it ends up being a Glossary. I turn the page and - oh no, that was the end! It totally messes up the level of commitment left over.

In spite of feeling like there should be more, this was an evocative, sensuous read. Looking back, I would rate the suspense story as a 3, but the language was thick with such vivid scenes that I felt it was more as I was reading. From the mouth-watering scent of Parisian bakeries to the stench of deat
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book for multiple reasons. First, it had one of the most unusual storylines that I think I have read all year. Second, it was intelligently written AND engrossing. Third, I loved how the characters were written. This book reminded me a tiny bit of Jennifer Donnelly's book, Revolution. This is an author who I have had several of her books on my TBR list for a while and they always kept being bumped down the list for other books. I will def. be moving her books back up the li ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was an eGalley ARC, and I don't normally bite the hand that feeds me advance eBooks (okay, they do expire so I don't actually own anything at the end), but this one fell somewhat short of my expectations. The writing was much too melodramatic at times, choppy narrative at others; it seemed like every few pages was a digression for a lengthy explanation about another factoid, which really hurt the pacing.

I really liked the narrative when it switched to past lives, I just wish the strength o
Rebecca Rosenberg
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Mystery wrapped in history wrapped in suspense

The Book of Lost Fragrances is a mesmerizing romp through ancient Egypt, Revolutionary France, and the modern day struggle to keep a family perfume business alive. The way Rose weaves in these different worlds, in addition to the quest for a Dalai alma, is masterful and imbued with intrigue. The research and story combine to hold one spellbound, and the end cannot be guessed, even though the clues were always there. A satisfying read that will linger
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Adding this to my top 10 books. Wow is all I can say. Ancient Egypt, Tibetian Buddhism, China, Paris, past lives, all are excellently woven in a fictional story that depending on your belief system holds a truth that has survived beyond the ages. Beautifully written, historical facts make this effort by M.J. Rose a stride out in front winner. If reincarnation is of interest to you then you will be richly rewarded with every turn of the page.
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recently, I had the opportunity to pick up a Galley of MJ Rose’s The Book of Lost Fragrances. Lately, I seem to have been spending a lot of time with books of the paranormal, dystopian, or fantasy genre, so I was surprised when I read about this book and couldn’t get it off my mind. The synopsis was awesome and pulled me in right away. Here’s the synopsis from

“A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical quali
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am quite surprised by how much I liked this book. The title really intrigued me when I saw it on and I decided to give it a try. It had something for everyone. There was mystery, intrigue, politics, fantasy, action, romance and adventure. I don’t much care about the romance part of it but, in some ways it is the crux of the story. In other ways, it is a byproduct of one of the key elements of the story. I am not sure how I feel about the ending but, I can say that even if it did ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013, general-fiction
Honestly, I just wasn't impressed with this book! I tried to get all excited about it! I really did! I checked it out 4 times from the library before I got to read it, I was that determined. Alas... it was mediocre at best. Now of course this is only my opinion and that isn't worth anything. You must also recognize that you can read a book and dislike it and then read it again in a couple of years and it's suddenly fabulous! This is not something I'll reread.

The premise is that somewhere, lost i
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Book of Lost Fragrances is the epitome of what I enjoy the most about M.J. Rose's works: fascinating historical facts mixed with thought-provoking spirituality and exciting storylines to form a potent elixir of a novel. Like the most complex perfumes, this book had layers of intrigue, most ostensibly involving the Chinese suppression of Tibetan Buddhists and a French family of perfumers' personal and financial troubles. These two initially separate narratives eventually collide in thrilling ...more
Qwill / The Qwillery
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing

The Book of Lost Fragrances starts off in 1799 in Alexandria, Egypt with the opening of a tomb. Giles L'Etoile, a perfumer from Paris, is at this event and finds something that will affect his family for generations to come. The story brings us from Egypt to present day New York and Paris, to Paris of the late 1700s and early 1800s, to the Egypt of Cleopatra, with stops in China and London.

The main characters are Jac L'Etoile and her brother Robbie L'Etoile. They are the present day owners of th
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it
It was OK but not great. The trouble is I want the books I read to be GREAT---four stars at least. When I compare a book like this, which has an interesting, inventive plot but just fails to come up with the impact it could have had, I think about authors like Diana Gabaldon and James McBride and Hilary Mantel. In their hands that story could have been riveting with memorable, fascinating characters. Even as I criticize though, I don't know how to fix what's wrong, or lacking. When I read a book ...more
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When I began reading The Book of Lost Fragrances I was slightly unsure what to expect. Won through a BookTrib giveaway I had only briefly skimmed the synopsis. I'm a rarity in that I feel blurbs and synopsis can give too much away about a book. There have been times I've read a blurb and know that the main character's best friend will come up missing and a mystery must be solved, but the friend doesn't disappears until halfway through the book. While reading the book I wait and wait and wait for ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Present Day

Jac L’Etoile is a celebrity. She has a book out titled Mythfinders and a television show by the same name. What started out as a way to prove that myths are not real, has turned out to be something more. In the process of Jac’s show, she can not help but admit a little to herself that myths are built around some truth. Instead of following in her family’s foot steps and becoming a perfumer, Jac became an explorer of ancient myths.

One that is a myth…a perfume that is known as the frag
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Mar 21, 2015 01:00PM  

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New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother's favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice... books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and re

Other books in the series

Reincarnationist (6 books)
  • The Reincarnationist (Reincarnationist, #1)
  • The Memorist (Reincarnationist, #2)
  • The Hypnotist (Reincarnationist, #3)
  • Seduction (Reincarnationist, #5)
  • The Collector of Dying Breaths (Reincarnationist, #6)

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“But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.” 0 likes
“But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection. —MARCEL PROUST, REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST” 0 likes
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