Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Perfume Collector” as Want to Read:
The Perfume Collector
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Perfume Collector

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  36,315 ratings  ·  3,782 reviews
A remarkable novel about secrets, desire, memory, passion, and possibility.

Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor.

Weaving through the deca
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Harper (first published April 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Perfume Collector, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Latarsha I came here looking for an answer to the same question! It would seem that on a second printing of this book that the typo (and a few others) would ha…moreI came here looking for an answer to the same question! It would seem that on a second printing of this book that the typo (and a few others) would have been corrected. Unless, as a commenter below said, maybe Eva was so concerned about discretion that she made the appointment with the attorney under Madame Hiver's name. That seems odd though considering the real Madame Hiver is indeed alive. If this is a typo, what a huge one to make.(less)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  36,315 ratings  ·  3,782 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Perfume Collector
I seriously loved this book. I only have one complaint that I will share at the end, which is a spoiler, so beware....

Grace, Eva, Monsieur Thissot, Mr. Lambert, Rita, Valmont, Madame Zed, Madame Hiver, and the rest of the characters in this book are eclectic, strange, maniacal, subdued, eccentric, and at times, plain crazy. Each one of them added to the overall character and life of this book. Add to the characters a unique and quirky story involving the smells of our lives and the life of a per
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in both pre and post World War II, the story follows one woman's journey through a very eventful life, which ultimately affects another's by leaving her a small fortune plus a beautiful apartment in Paris. It’s a story of love, loss, and mystery, but above all it takes us into the seductive world of perfumers. These perfumes though are special, creating not just a beautiful odour, but also creating bespoke fragrances with specific memories. It's a well told story that is saturated with this ...more
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Eva's story was interesting; Grace's story left me yawning.
But the worst part about this book was the absolutely horrible editing job. Someone at Harper Collins got paid a great deal of money to go drinking when he/she should have been proofreading. I have seen fewer grammatical and word usage errors in an advanced reader copy. It was distracting and infuriating.
I am mentally composing my letter to Harper Collins in which I offer my services as a copy editor. They need me.
Always Pouting
Grace Monroe receives an inheritance unexpectedly from someone named Eva living in France who she does not know. Grace takes a trip to France to figure out who Eva is and work out certain personal issues in her marriage. It's a short and easy read and has a interesting plot line. A lot of it was pretty predictable and the plot is a little all over the place. Not the next great american novel but it's a good read for when you just want to relax and not think too hard, when you need one of those f ...more
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro was an intriguing and compelling read with a lovely air of mystery about it that really kept me interested.

I listened this this book and while I am not a fan of audio books I really enjoyed the narrator of this book as she really added greatly to the overall enjoyment of the story.
I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed this novel as I would never have picked up this book had I not come across it as a monthly group read on Goodreads. The blurb and the c
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
When offered a review copy of The Perfume Collector, I did the same thing I always do first: checked out the Goodreads page to see how the early reviews had fallen. Based on the overwhelmingly positive response, I accepted, despite my crowded review schedule. I'm quite glad I did, as Tessaro's novel is a marvelous read, full of beautiful language and eccentric characters. Set in the post-WWII, Kathleen Tessaro's novel The Perfume Collector is a contemplative tale of one woman's journey to make a ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
When Grace Monroe receives a letter from a Paris solicitor, she is perplexed to learn that a complete stranger has named her a recipient of a sizeable inheritance. Motivated by curiosity and the need to distance herself from a troubled marriage and a pretentious social circle, Grace wants to know more about the mysterious Eva and sets off for Paris. Relying on the help of the handsome French solicitor and an aging Russian aristocrat, Grace's quest to find the answers might shatter the life that ...more
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
This is a Lifetime Movie masquerading as a novel. The characters are woefully underdeveloped and the "mystery" paper thin and obvious almost immediately.

Eva, who dies young at the age of 43 in 1955 in Paris, leaves her entire inheritance (a sizable one) to 27-year-old Grace. Grace flies from London to Paris to meet with a solicitor regarding the inheritance and tries to figure out who Eva was and why Eva would leave her not only an apartment but also stocks and a few other trinkets.

The book al
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Britany by: Laura
Paris, London, New York, Monaco...

This novel takes you across oceans to take you on its journey. Grace Munroe receives a strange, unexpected inheritance from Eva d'Orsey, a woman who lived in Paris, and who Grace has absolutely no memory of.

She decides to fly to Paris to see what the claim is about and frankly to be sure that they have the "right" Grace Munroe. What she discovers is a lost story that will forever impact her life. She discovers flavorful food, perfect scenery, and how powerful a
Jul 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Book club read #32 - August 2020.

3.5 stars.

I had a lot of mixed feelings during this story. I didn't like the opening chapters, then I fell absolutely in love with the whole idea of it, then it felt predictable but I was happy there was a slight twist on that front, and finally the ending fell a tad flat. I think it could have been edited down to a shorter version, and all the plot points didn't necessarily have to be so neatly tied up. But I am glad I finally read this after putting it off for
Lisa Dunckley
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book! I love books with stories within stories, and The Perfume Collector delivers in spades.

The “outside” story is of Grace Munroe and set in 1955. Newly married socialite Grace has just discovered proof that her husband is having an affair, when she receives a letter informing her that she is the main beneficiary in the will of Eva d'Orsey, and needs to come to Paris to claim her inheritance.

Except, that Grace has never even heard of Eva d'Orsey.

Figuring out who this myster
Just ok for me. While I thought the storyline interesting, the connection between Eva and Grace was pretty predictable early on, and the descriptive detail of perfume making was a bit much sometimes. Despite all the typo's, still not a bad read. ...more
“Most people assume that a muse is a creature of perfect beauty, poise and grace. Like the creatures from Greek mythology. They're wrong. In fact, there should be a marked absence of perfection in a muse--a gaping hole between what she is and what she might be. The ideal muse is a woman whose rough edges and contradictions drive you to fill in the blanks of her character. She is the irritant to your creativity. A remarkable possibility, waiting to be formed.”
― Kathleen Tessaro, The Perfume Coll
Lauren Henderson
4.5 stars

Immediate thoughts: Well that was just extremely beautifully written.. going on my favorites list.. Right. Now.

Actual review: I'm extraordinarily in love with The Perfume Collector. It is so romantically whimsical. I felt transported to another place and time - and it was about time - I read so many mediocre books in January that I was beginning to forget that feeling of getting lost in books. The world of Paris and perfume is romanticized so perfectly.. I mean... just look:

Perfume s
Jun 24, 2013 rated it liked it
(Probably potential spoilers below)

I picked this up at random from Waterstones when I realise I didn't have my Kindle with me and burned through it in a couple of days. A bittersweet tale of love, loss and enduring relationships, it was an enjoyable book if not one of my favourite ever plotlines.

Grace Munroe is a beginner socialite right on the introductory verge of the London mid-fifties upper class society scene when two unrelated revelations in one night send her fleeing to Paris, away from
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a beautifully written story of two women who's lives are intertwined, one who knows how and one who has no idea of the others existence. I may not have chosen this book and I would have missed out.

Ms Tessaro paints a vivid picture of 1950's England and France.....but an even better picture of the 1920's era. I could envision women who dressed to go out, and men who still wore suits. Of a society that overindulged in sinful encounters, drank too much and lived in the moment.

In flashback
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Shelves: reviewed-books
I pride myself on my balanced reviews. I try to remove my emotions from my critique and focus on the merits of the writer as a writer. The tone, the scene, the characterization, the plot...the basics, dang it.

So it is with great solemnity that I say, SQUEEE I loved this book!

A favorite author (Elizabeth Peters) once said (through her character writer and librarian Jacqueline Kirby) that she liked her books to "have a beginning, a middle, and an end." None of this slice-of-life stuff. I agree wit
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found the life of Madame Eva d'Orsey and the perfume industry to be most interesting. The 1920's are a favorite era of mine. I enjoyed the interchange between time periods and the characters and setting came to life through simple yet beautiful story telling. Figuring out about Grace early in the book took nothing away from the novel for me. Great book!

I'm all about covers, loved this one!!!
Jan 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Hi, I'm Victoria and I'm a perfume addict. My addiction began hours after emerging from the birth canal when I was doused with Agua de Violetas (it's a Cuban thing). So you can imagine how excited I was to read a book about a perfume collector and the disappointment when it was just an ancillary part of the story. A mere whiff versus its essence.

It was quite frustrating for me since the author could have written a really fascinating story, but she missed so many opportunities to give it depth.
Heather Webb
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I blasted through this book with its sensuality and intrigue set to the backdrop of 1930s and 1950s Paris. Don't be fooled by all of the glamour of the cover and the cover copy. There are a few hefty themes woven into the narrative as well. Loss of innocence, passion in its various forms, following one's heart. A fun read! ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Unlike other readers, I was NOT under the illusion that I would be reading a mystery..just because the main character, Grace Monroe, has received a letter, explaining that she is the sole beneficiary, of an inheritance from a mysterious woman whom she has never met. Though I guessed early on, how the two women would be linked, it did not take away from my enjoyment of the novel. I wish I could rate it between a three and a four, but from a critical perspective, I felt that the character of Eva D ...more
Love Fool
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
An inheritance from a mysterious stranger...
An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank of Paris..
And three exquisite perfumes that hold a memory... and a secret

I love reading about people who are so down about their life then get a second chance to be happy. It was a mystery with some forbidden romance. A story about two women who become strong and make it through tough times.

It's something we all hoped for one time in our lives, a random inheritance comes in giving you the freedom to do and
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
The premise of an English woman getting a surprise inheritance from a Parisian woman makes for an engaging read. Although the mystery of the Parisian woman's identity is rather predictable, that doesn't lessen the storytelling, and the reader is taken on a descriptive-rich journey of Paris during two different time periods. Some readers might not like the jumping back and forth in time, but I thought it was done fluently, and I enjoyed both story lines equally. But mostly I loved the description ...more
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I like perfumes and historical fiction so I did enjoy this book. It wasn't something mysterious or with an ending you couldn't possibly guess. I almost knew the end from page 100, but it was a nice read.
Strong female characters, lots of information about perfumes (visiting the Guerlain boutique, my favorite perfume brand), Paris, French sentences, they were all my cup of tea.
Darla Worden
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I became a fan of Kathleen Tessaro several years ago when my friend Julie gave me a copy of her novel "Elegance." Recently, Julie arranged for me to receive an advance copy of Tessaro's newest work, "The Perfume Collector", and it will be available for sale on May 14th.

It hooked me on page one and I spent every spare moment I could find in the past week reading it. I had conflicting emotions--the need to find out what was going to happen to the characters and at the same time the dread of seeing
Dec 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: us
Last year, as part of my escape from reality, I began to read more books set in the first part of the 20th century, and thus came across an American novelist, Kathleen Tessaro. The Perfume Collector is a piece of romantic/ detective fction; the action is set in the 1920s and 1950s, in France, New York, London and Northern England. Together with the protagonists, Eva and Grace, we witness ("enjoy ourselves at" is not a good word choice here) a sophisticated London party, work in a hotel hosting t ...more
Natalie M
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
“There is nothing more difficult than simplicity, and therefore, nothing more refined.”
This quote is a fairly accurate description of this novel. Despite it not being my usual genre, or one I read regularly, I really enjoyed the timeline (moving between The Great War and post WWII), the eccentric, eclectic and complex characters (Grace, Eva, Monsieur Thissot, and Madame Zed) and the intricacies of the world of perfumes.
Despite the plot being fairly predictable, author Tessaro cleverly takes the
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have not read anything by Kathleen Tessaro before so upon receiving this review copy from Harper Collins I honestly had no idea what to expect. The cover art showing an elegantly dressed woman in 1950’s dress is nicely attractive and I found perfectly suited the story that followed.
“Eva d’Orsey sat at the kitchen table, listening to the ticking clock, a copy of Le Figaro in front of her. This was the sound of time, moving away from her.
Taking another drag from a cigarette, she looked out of
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love historical fiction and anything having to do with fragrances. So, the fact that the author blended both elements together was both intriguing and cleverly done. The Perfume Collector is beyond exquisite; exploring mystery, societal issues concerning women of two different period in time, and of course, the beauty of romance and how various scents come in to play with intimacy among other things.

This story was truly a journey of self-discovery, and I was intrigued by every thin
~~Poulomi Sylphrena Tonk$~~
4 paperwhites-scented, beautiful Paris stars.

This turned out to be an unexpectedly good book. I’m not much of a Perfume-obsessed woman, but this book got me intrigued to the extent that I am contemplating on sitting and spending all day on the look-out for some fine perfume online.

The stories begins all of a sudden in New York, where Grace Munroe, a socialite in progress, receives a letter from Paris asking her to claim heirship for a certain Eva D’orsey. Someone she wasn’t sure of ever hea
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Spitalul manechinelor
  • Tănase Scatiu
  • Despre prietenie
  • Mi-e rău la cap, mă doare mintea
  • El milagro secreto
  • The Four Winds
  • The Lions of Fifth Avenue
  • Fie-ne tranziţia uşoară
  • Sexagenara si tânărul
  • A Paris Apartment
  • The Longest Science-fiction Story Ever Told
  • Have You Got Everything You Want?: A Short Story
  • از طرف آبری با عشق
  • The Case of the Discontented Husband: A Short Story (Parker Pyne)
  • The Fourth Man: A Short Story
  • Orwell on Freedom
  • The Henna Artist (The Henna Artist, #1)
  • The Book of Lost Names
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kathleen attended the University of Pittsburgh before entering the drama program of Carnegie Mellon University. In the middle of her sophomore year, she went to study in London for three months and stayed for the next twenty-three years. She began writing at the suggestion of a friend and was an early member of the Wimpole Street Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel ...more

News & Interviews

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
84 likes · 15 comments
“There is nothing more difficult than simplicity, and therefore, nothing more refined.” 35 likes
“Most people assume that a muse is a creature of perfect beauty, poise and grace. Like the creatures from Greek mythology. They're wrong. In fact, there should be a marked absence of perfection in a muse--a gaping hole between what she is and what she might be. The ideal muse is a woman whose rough edges and contradictions drive you to fill in the blanks of her character. She is the irritant to your creativity. A remarkable possibility, waiting to be formed.” 25 likes
More quotes…