Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives.
Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world—a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.
Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.
Erica Bauermeister is the NYT bestselling author of five novels -- The Scent Keeper (a Reese's Book Club pick), The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, The Lost Art of Mixing, and a new novel, No Two Persons, due out in May of 2023. She has also written a memoir, House Lessons: Renovating a Life and is the co-author of two readers' guides: 500 Great Books by Women and Let's Hear It For the Girls. She currently lives in Port Townsend, Wa with her husband and 238 wild deer.
This is a very difficult book for me to review. There are parts that I really liked and there are parts that I really didn't. I think the one thing that helps with these middle of the road reviews is identifying for others if the author is worth reading again. My answer would be yes. There were a few books that I was reminded of while reading this - The Great Alone, Where the Crawdads Sing and The Unseen World. If either of those pique your interest, then I suggest you give this book a try.
Emmeline lives with her father on a remote island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, completely isolated from the world. Unfortunately, things go badly and Emmeline is taken off the island by a loving couple who send her to school and raise her. It is a coming of age story (which are my favorite), but where this starts to lose me is the lack of consistency with the character. (And also all the smelling).
I get the title of this book is The Scent Keeper, but I found myself almost rolling my eyes sometimes because of my disbelief that someone would actually have this ability to smell! I'm sure I'm incorrect and it's entirely possible, but I have not heard or read of anything like this before so it was kind of strange. (Easy to overlook though - this didn't ruin the story for me.)
The book was broken up into three sections, with quick chapters. Section 1 was jarring (for me) just because it was so vague and different (which is fine), but I felt plopped into a world with little explanation. By the time I gained my bearings, we were on to section 2. Section 2 was my favorite and the strongest part of the book for me. I could have stayed there forever. Section 3 was where things started to break down for me. The main character acted outside of herself in a number of circumstances (some of my doubts I could explain away, but others I really couldn't), the introduction of a character (whom I loathed, but that's okay, I think you're meant to) and the ending. The ending came to such a screeching halt that I honestly thought I somehow skipped to the end by accident because there were a number of things to me that needed wrapping up. I'm not sure if the author wasn't sure how to end it or wanted to end with some ambiguity (goal accomplished) so she went balls to the walls? It's such a shame because this was a really strong 4 or better read for a while and then I felt it fell apart.
Obviously, I'm in the minority opinion so chances are - you will love this. (And I hope you do!)
Thank you to St. Martin's Press, Netgalley and Erica Bauermeister for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.
A book about senses, about scents, and how they can transport us places, bringing up memories, and reminding us of important events in our lives. Have you ever heard the question, "If you could give up one of your senses which would you give up?" Many may choose the ability to smell. Many would choose differently after reading this book.
This is also a book about secrets, about growing up, about finding love, about grief, and about starting over. It's about finding a friend, being a family, finding love, and the role of secrets and guilt in our lives.
Emmeline lives on a remote island with her father who tells her fairy tales which he uses as life lessons for her. They live off the land and the "items" which magically show up on their shores. Her father is an interesting man. He has a machine he takes out on rare occasions. A machine which produces papers which he places in small glass bottles and seals with wax.
One day Emmeline must leave the island and all the she knows to begin a new life full new and interesting challenges. One thing she brings with her is her very own strong ability to recognize scents and how they tell her a story. As she grows and matures, she begins her own quest fueled by her need for the need for truth, scents and to learn more about herself.
I often find it difficult to review books, I truly enjoy. Those reviews take longer. I want to get them right and ponder over what I want to say. I usually just want to type "read this book" in capital letters and be done with it. So, I will say that. READ THIS BOOK. Reading the synopsis, one might think, huh, a book about scents, isolated islands and finding your own identity and be concerned whether he/she will enjoy it. But I believe that most will be swept away by this book. I found the writing to be beautiful and the Author easily transported me to every location in her book. All the characters were fully fleshed out and interesting -even the despicable ones.
The way the Author writes about scents and how they tell a story, how each individual can smell something and be transported back in time, perhaps to a grandmother's kitchen while she was cooking, or to that camp you attended as child, whatever the case may be, all of us have certain scents we enjoy.
This book is a keeper. It is unique, lyrical, thought provoking and often felt like a fairy tale itself. So, as I said before, read the book and judge for yourself.
Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
I find myself taking in a very deep breath, as I start this review. 😍 I’ve smelled my husband. I’ve smelled my children. It’s romantically magical that scents can trigger so much emotion and memories. 🥰 This book had so many feels. Love, loss, hope, fear, adventure, romance, heartache. I loved the characters. I loved the settings. I loved the story. ❤️ I’d recommend this book to anyone who loved “Where the Crawdads Sing” or “The Great Alone”.
When I read the synopsis for this book I was a bit concerned about whether or not I could possibly enjoy a story that revolved around scents. It just did not seem like something up my alley. But because the book was getting some really positive reviews, I decided to take a chance on it, and I am so glad I did. And guess what? I really grew to love the role scents and people's sense of smell played in the book. It was a fascinating read.
Emmeline has been raised by her father on a remote island, secluded from the rest of society. To say he is obsessed with scents is putting it mildly. He has a machine that creates different scents and he has stored a whole bunch of them in their house. The older Emmeline gets, the more she has this feeling that something else is out there although given her upbringing she is absolutely unprepared when certain events thrust her into the real world.
I apologize this review is pretty vague but I do believe this is a story that is best enjoyed the less you know ahead of time. You just have to trust me when I say it is a journey worth taking. For quite awhile near the beginning of the book, I still had doubts but soon everything started to fall into place and I was hooked. The way scents and the sense of smell was weaved into the story was just brilliant. I ended up finishing the book in just one night which goes to show how much I liked it.
I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to read something a bit different. I know this book has been compared to Where the Crawdads Sing, and there are a few similarities between the two, but this one definitely stands on its own two feet. This was a unique story and one worth reading. Take a chance on it like I did!
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.
I want to say upfront that a 3 star rating isn't bad in my opinion. Although I didn't fall in love with this book, I did like it. Erica Bauermeister puts her young protagonist, Emmeline on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Throughout this story as Emmeline leaves her remote island, struggles adapting to life, and then heads to the city to investigate unanswered questions, we do enter the world of fragrance.
But all day I cannot seem to get over the hurdle that the author ends her story rather abruptly. It's like reaching the season finale of a television show with a jaw dropping twist and then being informed the show is cancelled. Thanks for driving me mad!!!
All in all, a great storyline but I cannot get any satisfaction.
I'm honored to be part of the blog tour for Erica Bauermeister's incredibly memorable new novel, The Scent Keeper.
Scents can provide some of our most potent memories, our strongest sense of time and place. It could be a perfume or cologne worn by someone you love, a freshly baked treat you remember from childhood, even the smell of the air after a rainstorm. Bauermeister's beautifully told book is an illustration of a life lived through embracing one of our strongest senses.
Emmeline lives in a cabin on a remote island with her father. It's a marvelous existence for a young girl—she has an entire island to herself to explore, and she and her father live off the land, enjoying all that nature has to offer. He teaches her how to use her senses more than anything else.
During the winter things get tough as food becomes more scarce, but she loves when her father tells her fairy tales and stories. In their cabin they are surrounded by little glass bottles which contain papers that have mysterious scents on them. Her father doesn't explain where they come from, or what the machine that creates these scent papers is, but he gives her powerful advice: "People lie, Emmeline, but smells never do."
But when she discovers the truth about the island on which they live, everything starts to change, and her father becomes more and more obsessed with the scent papers stored in their cabin, to the detriment of everything else, including himself. Without warning, Emmeline is suddenly thrust into the real world, forced to interact with people other than her father, and having to experience first-hand the violence, betrayal, and pain that people cause each other, willingly and unwillingly.
"There had been a time in my life when I had felt grown-up, capable. Now I was too scared of the world outside to leave the house. I stayed in my room mostly, telling myself the stories from my father's book of fairy tales. The girl in the red cloak, running through the trees. The genie waiting in the bottle, growing more powerful with time. The children, lost in the woods with only breadcrumbs to help them. I spoke the words in my mind, as if they could tell me how to navigate this place I'd found myself in, but the best they could do was help me forget. Still, I returned to the stories, wishing for something that would never come. An ending that had already happened."
When Emmeline learns the secrets her father kept hidden from her, she is determined to find out the truth about him and her background. She finds a world far beyond any she had imagined, where she can use her sense of smell professionally, and she finally feels like she belongs. But she also confronts one of her father's most powerful pieces of advice again, "People lie, but smells never do."
At first I felt as if The Scent Keeper was similar to Delia Owens' Where the Crawdads Sing—a story of a young girl who is more in-step with nature than people thrust into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable world. And while there are elements of that in this story, this is also a book about the family we're born into and the family we choose, understanding what—and whom—to fight for, and how our senses give us insight into human behavior we may never recognize unless we let them.
I thought this was a fascinating and beautiful book, full of gorgeously lyrical imagery (how else could Bauermeister make you understand the scents that swirled around Emmeline and the other characters) and a powerful if familiar story of love, trust, family, and our relationship with the natural world. I enjoyed reading this book immensely, even when I wanted to shake the characters for not saying what they were thinking or feeling.
This is definitely a book that made me think about the connection between scent and memory, and how when I remember certain events or people in my life, I often associate a particular smell with them. The Scent Keeper is thought-provoking and memorable.
NetGalley and St. Martin's Press provided me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!
If you loved Where the Forest Meets the z Stars ir When Crawdads Sing, don't miss this beautiful book! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Emmeline has a charmed childhood. She lives on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the world through the various senses.
There’s a machine in their home that creates scents, and all kinds of fragrances are stored in drawers that cover the walls. Emmeline’s father doesn’t talk about that, though.
Emmeline becomes more impetuous, and her actions cause her to be forced into the real world. There she finds all the good and all the bad associated with typical life. Emmeline must address her past to understand fully who she is.
Bauermeister’s writing is stunning and lyrical. The alluring descriptions reminded me of Where the Crawdads Sing simply because of how descriptive they are, and fans of that book will surely be able to settle into this story.
I’m going to keep this on the briefer side because there’s too much goodness to experience here, and I don’t want to spoil it. Some final thoughts- Emmeline comes of age. She figures out just who she is and the ways of the world. There’s a touch of magic and so much hope and beautiful storytelling.
The Scent Keeper is a mesmerizing and vivid story that comes to life and fully immerses you within its pages. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
4.5 rounded up to 5 for the way this book made me feel 💖
Scents have the power to evoke memories and powerful emotions. Certain smells can transport me to special moments in time and place. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could bottle them and save them forever? Emmaline and her father live on a remote island where they are immersed in nature, and they did just that.
Much like sommeliers are super-tasters, they are super-smellers. The cabin is lined with small drawers, each holding a vial containing a scent. Each vial contained not just a scent, but a memory. When I was in college I did a research paper on the power of subliminal messages and I loved this aspect of the story.
Emmaline has many questions but she knows not to push her father too hard. Events transpire that catapults Emmaline into a different world. I loved Emmaline and her journey of self-discovery as she makes peace with her past and figures out her future. The cast of supporting characters were interesting and provided depth and context.
This plot is one best discovered on your own so I won’t say more than that. This is a book about family, and acceptance of your parents, flaws and all. The theme of compassion and forgiveness of yourself and others runs throughout.
“All those stories, all those lives, each one an entire world to the person living it, and yet I knew none of them. Maybe that’s how it always is, I thought–we all just go along, catching glimpses of one another, thinking we know everything.”
Magical realism is not a genre I typically gravitate toward but I’m so glad I took a chance on this one. I absolutely loved it. If, like me, you didn’t care for Where the Crawdads Sing, don’t be dissuaded by the comparisons. I found the two books to be completely different.
I was captivated by this magical world, one that remained firmly rooted in reality. This is a beautifully written story, full of warmth and heart. I loved escaping into Emmaline’s world. Marialyce and I enjoyed this book as a buddy read and it's one we both highly recommend.
Thumbs-up to Reese Witherspoon’s honest-to-goodness-great-2020 February-book choice!
The descriptions are lyrical - a little mystical and poetic - perhaps not to everyone’s taste… but I was in the right mood for the enchanting storytelling.
Those who enjoyed “Where the Crawdads Sing”.... may enjoy this book too.
Emmeline and her father lived on a quiet small island. The love between the two of them was heartwarming.... but.... there is much more.... Hint.... ‘scents’ of smells linger....lessons are to be discovered. Truths slowly rise to the surface.
Surprisingly delightful storytelling... an emotionally charged novel of love, and loss, and growing up. Clever, unique, witty, and profound..... filled with amusing observations about life.... Bighearted.... in the form of a philosophical fable... Enchanting!
It can take a lifetime to forgive!
My suggestion.... go in blind... Enjoy the fairy tale experience... ....the family journey... the characters...a little magical realism ( not too overbearing)... Let your imagination soar....
“But I have all and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things [which were sent] from you, an order of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God”.
Erica Bauermeister has crafted a unique and lovely tail about secrets, forgiveness, and the power of scent. Emmeline spent the first 12 years of her life living on an isolated island with her beloved father. All they had was each other, the trees, their cabin, and a drawers of fragrance. As Emmeline gets older she knows there is more behind her father’s obsession with cent then he is telling her, but what is it? After a tragedy Emmeline finds herself thrust into the “real world“. For Emmeline the outside world is terribly challenging . If it weren’t for the loving couple that takes her in and a boy named Fisher she would be all alone. But as time goes on Emmeline knows it is time for her to confront the secrets of her past.
This was a beautifully told coming of age story bursting with quirk and charm. Loved Emmeline she had such a sweet spirit and her vulnerability really tugs at the heartstrings. I found the part that scent played in the story extremely fascinating. How scent can evoke a memory or how it can be used to manipulate you to feel a certain way. There is a lot about fragrance in the story and Emmeline has a crazy bond and talent when it comes to scent. Now I have a bit of a fragrance obsession myself, but I really have no idea if there are people out there that feel scent like some of the characters in the story.
This story had such a vibrant and unique vibe to it. I enjoyed every single minute I spent with Emmeline on her journey of self discovery. The story was quiet, but powerful. The characters were simple, but complex. I’m struggling to find the perfect adjective to describe thisbook. How about this? It is a book I am extremely grateful to have had the privilege of reading. and I hope you feel the same way when you finish it!
🎧🎧🎧 Gabra Zackman brought the perfect tone to the story. She brought each character their own unique voice and really brought this beautiful story to life.
*** many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan Audio for my gifted copy ***
Not an especially riveting character study or adventure arc, but noteworthy for its unyielding marvel over fragrance and the psychological power of smell. As someone with a monthly Bath & Body Works budget, I totally relate to the obsession over base notes, top notes and heart notes that combine to build a compelling fragrance. I also experience uncanny flashbacks when presented with certain scents. The Scent Keeper is a deep dive into that entire world from the perspective of a nose prodigy who grew up isolated and must come of age amid tragic circumstances.
From a narrative perspective, this book reminds me a lot of the far-superior Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. Both books deal with a five senses prodigy, one with taste and one with smell, but Kitchens offers a greater range of side characters and unique dilemmas that build around the main plot. The Scent Keeper, however, resorts to cookie cutter B-story romance and a more tired examination of family bonds.
It's unfortunate that the intriguing premise isn't carried into a more supplicated storyline. The dramas are simple, generally cheesy, and as unsurprising as a Hallmark movie. It compels minimally, keeping one constantly side-tracked and dreaming of all the other books to read, but it admittedly does its job good enough to reach the end.
The writer in me can't quite dismiss the book totally because smell is the most underexamined senses and I applaud any attempt as ambitious as this to bring it front and center. The result leaves much to be desired, but by no means delivers a poor experience. As for a recommendation, it deserves a solid maybe.
We are the unwitting carriers of our parents’ secrets, the ripples made by stones we never saw thrown… We humans are almost entirely made of water, except for the stones of our secrets.
I remember the way the rain seemed to talk to the roof as I fell asleep, and how the fire would snap and tell it to be quiet… I could feel the tendrils of a fragrance tickling the inside of my nose, slipping into the curls of my black hair… I inhaled, and fell into the fragrance like Alice down the rabbit hole.
My father had told me that many things in fairy tales weren’t real, but my problem was I didn’t always know which ones.
Cleopatra the goat rapidly became Cleo, but both names fit. She was still young enough for a nickname, but she had aspirations of grandeur, my father said. She ruled us from the very beginning.
The woman’s pants hugged her so tightly I thought at first she had blue legs…
Looking at her was like gazing into one of those enchanted mirrors and seeing a beautiful, older, far more assured version of myself.
Erica Bauermeister is a master storyteller, an expert wordsmith, and an agile weaver of creative and fanciful tales that transport the mind as well as painfully massage the coronary muscle. I ran the gamut while reading, I was transfixed, intrigued, appalled, frustrated, enraged, despondent, deeply moved, entertained, impatient, brokenhearted, and nearly insane with curiosity; yet through it all, I was also 100% engaged and fully immersed in the tale.
The writing was lushly descriptive, evocatively detailed, insightfully observant, and simply beguiling. I have a keen sense of smell and was all too easily slotted within Emmeline’s head. I was instantly taken with and understood her assignment of colors, sounds, shapes, and emotions to corresponding scents. Yet I could never have imagined the sense of carefree abandon and adult encouragement to believe in magic and fairy tales during her rustic early childhood on an isolated island, although I would certainly have reveled in that as a child.
The captivating storylines were ingeniously creative, undeniably consuming, and cast with tantalizingly elusive, and uniquely compelling and stunningly clever characters who were a bit unsettling as they appeared peculiarly off center and while most were not dangerous, several were more than a tad beyond slippery. I was reluctant to put this book down for any length of time and continued to ruminate over this consuming story whenever those displeasing tasks otherwise known as daily living rudely interrupted my reading. In sum, Erica Bauermeister has a new fangirl.
A few months ago, I was invited to participate in the blog tour for this book and after reading the summary, I accepted the invite even though I did have a little bit of hesitation about the story. The reason for my hesitation was because I had never before read any books or stories that revolved entirely around scents and smells and wondered what kind of a story this would turn out to be. Also, reading the summary, I got the impression at first that this would lean toward magical realism more than anything else, which is not a genre that I read a whole lot in, so I was a little concerned that I might struggle through this one. Well, it turns out I need not have worried, as this book was nothing like I imagined it and in the end, I not only devoured this one, I actually fell in love with the story as well as most of its characters.
This was a fascinating read for me, one in which I enjoyed every minute reading it and quite honestly, didn’t want it to end. I actually have never read a book quite like this one – unique in its detailed exploration of scent through the character of Emmeline and the talent she possessed, done in a way that was fascinating and engaging, yet also incorporating the familiarity of a story about family, love, relationships (with people as well as with nature), and the realities of ordinary life (whether good, bad, or everything in between). I love books that teach me things, that make me wonder, reflect, and ponder, that give me food for thought, and most of all, that make me continue to think about the story or its characters long after I finish reading – this book definitely did all that and then some! To be honest, before reading this book, I never gave much thought to our sense of smell or the types of images that certain scents and fragrances can conjure up – it was another one of those things I took for granted as being a necessary part of life but not tremendously special. This book changed my perspective in a big way, as it helped me realize how scents can be used to evoke memories (both pleasant and unpleasant), but can also be used to steer human behavior and even manipulate people into acting in certain ways. Already, it has made me more aware in the sense that when I smell certain scents now, I wonder about the people and the story behind those scents…
If I had to choose the thing I loved most about this book, I would have to say the writing, which was absolutely lyrical and immersive – this was a story gorgeously written and beautifully told and yes, some parts did take my breath away. It was also an emotional read for me – Emmeline’s journey of self-discovery was heart-wrenching at times but also heartfelt and hopeful. I know that Emmeline is a character I will remember for a long time to come.
With all that said though, my one complaint – and the main reason why this book was just shy of a 5 star read for me – was the ending, which was way too abrupt and actually left me thinking that perhaps I was missing a few pages somewhere. After such a beautiful, heartfelt journey – one that I was so immersed and invested in – to have it end the way it did was jarring and more than a little bit disappointing. Luckily, the rest of the story was strong enough that it didn’t impact how I felt about the book overall but I think if the ending had been done differently, this would have been a perfect read.
Without a doubt, this is a book that I highly recommend – one that I feel no review can do justice to, as it is a story that must be experienced for yourself. This was one I’m definitely glad I read, as it grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go, even after the very last page. Definitely pick this one up, as it is a story that absolutely deserves to be read!
Received ARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley
What brings joy to your heart and mind? Is it the sight of someone you love, the look of the holidays, or is it the smells which engender in your heart and mind the things that you love? Think of the smell of turkey roasting in the oven (bet your mouth has started to water!), of pine, the scent of Christmas trees, of a winter's day, of a new baby, so warm and sweet smelling like the best flower ever, or the outdoors on a crisp autumn day. Don't these smells make you come alive? You could close your eyes and still feel that love and longing for the times these smells gave to you. Look outside and inhale the air. Smell the smell of Spring, the flowers, the trees, the air filled with the promise of awakening.
“I listened, while the scents found their hiding places in the cracks in the floorboards, and the words of the story, and the rest of my life.”
In the book, The Scent Keeper, we learn the importance of scent in the life of Emmaline. She had been taken away to a deserted island by her father, hidden away from the sights and smells of the congested world and allowed to grow with his love and his desire to imprint on her and others, the scents that he had tried to capture in his scent machine.
“Back before there was time, I lived with my father on an island, tucked away in an endless archipelago that reached up out of the cold salt water, hungry for air.”
Emmaline's life was ever so different. Her dad educated her always with the idea that our nose is a wonderful vehicle into your past and present. She adored him and when fate intervened into what some might have called their idyllic life, (for who in these days would not wish to dwell on a deserted island), Emmaline must grasp onto a future that holds many secrets, surprises, and the chance of love. She is blessed with not only a deep abiding respect for scent, but also the innate ability to puzzle out what she smells in the many blended scents she eventually becomes exposed to.
This wonderful story made me feel just that ....wonderful. I adored the background setting of the sea, its mystery, its beauty, its danger and yes, the smell of the ocean that even now I can sense as I am writing this review. It was a tender story, believable as a journey in finding oneself, the mystery we all have experienced as we travel down the road of life. In Emmeline, this author has given us a wonderful character who is placed on a pathway to not only discover who her parents were, but also to find her place in a world that once seemed so foreign to her. It's a beautiful story that I highly recommend.
After reading the terrific “No Two Persons” I decided to read another book by this author, so I picked this one, which was also picked by Reese’s Book Club, in 2020. I do have mixed feelings about it, so I will try to be fair. The first 25% was extraordinary. I was enthralled by the writing and the storytelling and the description of the scents. It reminded of “Perfume”, by Patrick Suskind. It was magical! There was so much heart in it. Then things changed. It became a bit repetitive and boring, but filled with anger and bitterness. But later, things became interesting again, with some family drama. I found the interaction between mother and daughter completely off and unbelievable, but I learned to accept it. I just wished that that little girl had never left the island. And I wished that the writing was consistent. Regardless, I did find the concept very interesting and compelling.
I really wanted to give this book at least three stars but I couldn't! What?? This is a half finished book! It just ended during the climax, like the writer stayed up all night writing and she got to this point and had nothing left to write so she just decided to be done with it and go to bed. What?? Im so confused. I honestly think the author got tired of the story and just wanted to be done with it. The first half was really strong it was a complicated beautiful story about a Father with a complicated past trying to raise his daughter alone on an Island. The writing was very lyrical and a really unique idea! I love how The writer described the scents, I have to say she is very good with capturing the essence of senses and makes you feel you can do it too. However the second half of the book got a little hallmark-ey and a little choppy and then boom just over, pretty much in the middle of a sentence. I've never experienced this before, I'm too confused to be disappointed at the moment but I think that moment is coming..
While reading The Scent Keeper I was somewhat ambivalent about it. The overarching concept and plot was interesting, and while I was reading the book there were moments where I genuinely liked it.
However, there were a couple things that I didn't like. First, the characters were flat and most of them were incredibly selfish, with the exception of Henry and Colette, who were essentially used and underappreciated by Emmaline. Other things were unbelievable, such as the main character understanding the underlying desires and motivations of random people in a store while having been a teenage girl who spent most of her life isolated from other people. The interactions between the characters were frustrating at times because there were unnecessary amounts of secrecy at every turn - like I get having secrets, but it was too much (this is coming from someone who is from a highly reserved family in the rural Midwest).
In addition, the ending felt like a jumble of information rather than any sort of resolution, and the conclusion was oddly placed.
Finally, I got a sense of some of the themes and concepts the author was incorporating into the story. The Scent Keeper is about love and secrets, and loosely contains fairy tale motifs that turn out to be more complicated, flawed, etc. than the stories told by Emmaline's father. I think these are great ideas, but they weren't as developed as I'd like them to be.
For these reasons, I'd give it 2.5 stars (rounded down). That said, given the other reviews on this site it looks like I'm in the minority.
Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the ARC of this book.
While unusual in many ways, the lyrical prose grows repetitive, much as the characters. There's much to like, however. Emmeline is raised on a small island by her father who harbors and odd device that captures scents on paper and are stored in wax sealed bottles; its here where her 'scent keeper' skills are born. Romantic at its core, the plot takes her to the city in her late teens to find the boy she loved; in the process she discovers her long lost mother. Scents are correlated with memories, the basis for a successful business built by Ms Wingate, her mother. Characters are well developed, plot is engaging yet predictable and overall, it's a unique story. What I found somewhat disturbing was the repeated sentence format which while lyrical grew tedious. It's one thing to use the format here and there, but quite another throughout an entire novel. Regardless it combines fantasy, romance and intrigue.
I read this along with my friend @danythebookworm_ . I was in a major reading slump and this beautiful book yanked me right out!! I adored this story so so much. Really didn't want it to end. I could so go for another one as I really loved these characters.
Having always been fascinated how a smell can evoke an immediate memory I was excited to read this and it lived up to my expectations. The writing is beautiful, and I mean there were sentences that literally stopped me, and with an inhalation of breath, I would read them again and be instantly moved with emotion. Sometimes that emotion was tears and sometimes I felt sucker-punched the emotion was so raw. Always intense. Always beautiful.
Please let me also mention, this book came from the publisher and when I opened the package there was a very soft, faint fragrance. A lovely smell. A scent that I couldn't exactly place but immediately felt like it was evoking a memory. A half hour later it was completely gone. So brilliant!
Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book to read in exchange for my honest opinion.
I wavered & wavered between 3 and 4 stars on this one because I really enjoyed the unique premise of the story and the magical nature of the language, BUT I was almost screaming at how it ended - I NEEDED MORE! And while because of the ending I won't be texting all my friends and sister telling them to read it, I really won't forget it. The lyrical descriptions were enchanting, and while some of the story and character development felt less-than, overall I am happy to have spent the hours I did in the world in the story. I definitely plan to look up other works by this author.
After reading Bauermeister's No Two Persons, I was keen to read more by her. My search drove me to this audiobook. Had I not been searching especially for the author, I wouldn't have looked twice at this book, due to its generic title and cover - even though both are well suited to the novel's setting and plot.
This is a novel about scents and the memories they evoke in us and one man's quest to preserve them.
Emmeline is brought up by her father on a remote island. He endows her with survival skills, applied science and develops her sense of smell. He's a scientist obsessed with preserving scent, which he captures with a special machine and stores in bottles sealed with wax. Emmeline grows up hearing his stories, many of them as fairytales. One day, Emmeline's anger upon discovering her father had lied to her, drives her to do the inconceivable, which results in tragedy.
She is rescued by a fisherman, so for years Emmeline lives with him and his nice wife, going to school and helping them manage the resort they own.
The seclusion of the island kept Emmeline in the dark, now she's looking for answers about her parents and herself. There are many secrets she needs to uncover.
This novel was atmospheric and ethereal at times. Gabra Zackman's beautiful voice and narration style was soothing and mesmerising.
The Scent Keeper is coming of age story, replete with secrets. It'll make you think about smells that trigger your memories.
*Minor spoiler under “The Bad” Overall: A beautifully written, lyrical, unique story about love, courage, finding oneself, and scents. A very sweet and light book that was easy and fun to get lost in 4/5 or 7/10
Summary: “Back before there was time, I lived with my father on an island, tucked away in an endless archipelago that reached up out of the cold salt water, hungry for air.”
The story starts off on a secluded island in the Pacific Northwest where we meet Emmeline, a young girl who has always lived alone with her scientist father. Her father collects and studies scents that he preserves in small glass bottles and they both are completely isolated from the outside world (Emmeline believes that supplies are brought to them by mermaids). Emmeline finds out a bit of truth and becomes angry and makes a choice that will change her life forever. That choice forces her into the outside world where she is raised by a lovely couple in a small coastal town outside of Vancouver. The story follows Emmeline’s transition and her growth as she comes to terms with understanding and embracing who she is.
The Good: The book is written so lovely it is almost lyrical in its style. I loved the premise too! I had no idea what I was getting into, but I am so glad I picked this one up and think most everyone would enjoy this read. In addition to lovely writing, unique premise, the plot is engaging and fast paced, and I really liked the two main characters. Moderate to more character depth, especially for Emmeline, and I really did like her. A nice light read with a bit of magic that is lovely to get lost in.
The Bad : The major critique is the ending and also why did they have to kill off both the goat and the dog?! I really don’t think either did much to help the story and just made me very sad.
Favorite Quotes: “Scents were always about what was growing and what was dying. What would last through the next season. This was just with people instead of trees or flowers or dirt. Maybe I could read them after all. The thought gave me hope.”
“Scents were like rain, or birds. They left and came back.”
“It's amazing how easily we can cast ourselves in the role of hero.”
I went into reading The Scent Keeper completely blind, but I loved the writing of it so much! Right away, I knew that I would love this book. The literary feel, the somewhat magical realism elements that I love, and the rich story of Emmeline as a child to her coming of age as a woman, all drew me in.
Emmeline lives on an island with her father, and realizes that certain scents are stored away as memories in small rolls of paper, each tucked away safely in each bottle. Her life on the island is based on these smells and she takes them with her into womanhood, as she navigates through this life and world. This story is atmospheric and compelling, and a beautiful read just in time for summer!
Happy #PubDay to The Scent Keeper! On sale today. Thank you to @stmartinspress and @netgalley for this complimentary digital copy.
3.5🌟 actually rounded down to 3 I really enjoyed reading this book , made me "feel" and "smell " all those feelings that were trapped within its pages.... The book was a delight up to the last page, up to the ending...where I feel I was left wondering, guessing , deciding according to my own experience within the book what the end would be...an open ending.....hence the 3.5🌟
Į šių metų kolekciją dar viena prasta knyga. Aš nuoširdžiai neįsivaizduoju, kaip įmanoma parašyti tokią nuobodžią istoriją. Pusę knygos prasikankinau. Perskaitau skyrių - imu telefoną, perskaitau kitą - einu įsipilti sulčių ir t. t. Na, daviau aš šansą iki pat pabaigos. Juk ne be reikalo Reese skaitė ją savo knygų klube. Man ir "Tobuli gyvenima liepsnoja skaisčiau", ir "Daisy Jones & The Six" baisiai patiko. Juk kažkas turėtų būti paslėpta ir čia. Kažkoks kabliukas ar kas.
Deja. Skaičiau ir niekaip nesupratau, kaipgi veikia tas kvapų išsaugojimo aparatas. Kol galiausiai veikimo principą paaiškino vos ne knygos pabaigoje. O kodėl negalėjo pradžioje? Taip ir plavinėjau nieko nesuprasdama. Pirma dalis "Sala" buvo neįdomi. Taip laukiau tos laukinės gamtos aprašymo, salų auros, bet nieko. Trūko detalumo, niekaip nepavyko įsivaizduoti nei salos, nei kanalo, nors fantazija nesiskundžiu.
Bet kas svarbiausia, jog skaitant neaplenkė jausmas, jog tai jau kažkur skaičiau. Ogi todėl, kad autorė vis pylė tą patį per tą patį. Perskaitai daug, o informacijos apvalus nulis: tie patys veikėjų išgyvenimai, emocijos, jausmai, mintys. Emelinė, kaip pagrindinis personažas, neaugo. Nuo dvylikos iki devyniolikos metų nepasikeitė nė trupučio. Mąstė ir elgėsi vienodai. Jokio pokyčio.
Rašymo stilius saldus. Viskas tobula - jokių iššūkių ar gyvenimo negandų nepajutau, nes jos buvo taip nusaldintos ir mielai aprašytos, jog nesukėlė visiškai jokios emocijos ar užuojautos. Nupasakoti kvapai nežavėjo. Arba jau buvau nusivylusi tiek, kad jokių teigiamų dalykų ir nebemačiau.
Galiausiai pabaiga. Na, nebuvo pabaigos. Skaitau, skaitau, verčiu kitą puslapį, o ten - padėka. Pamaniau, jog brokas, trūksta puslapių. Taip ir likau ant ledo.
The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister is a beautifully written novel! The prose are poetic and lyrical. Some of the descriptions of scene and scent are so detailed that you feel transported to another world. It was fascinating to read the descriptions of how something smells. It’s not an easy task to describe a specific scent with words but Bauemeister does so elegantly.
At the start of this tale, you are plopped into the middle of a story with little context. The ambiguity piqued my interest and I was immediately invested to find out more. As the story unfolds, you meet characters you fall in love with, some you hurt for and some you loath. There’s a single thread of mystery that is Emmeline, the protagonist. Who is she, what is her story, what happened to her family, and how does she discover her own identity.
Of the five senses, it is believed that your sense of smell is the strongest trigger for memories. Emmeline’s gift of an exquisite olfactory senses helps her discover the truth and remember the past.
Emmeline is a tortured soul in that she carries a deep sense of guilt and shame that she must reconcile to ultimately forgive herself and accept who she is.
I really enjoyed this book; it is like nothing I’ve read before and my first by Bauemeister.
My enjoyment of this book was amplified by reading it with my sweet friends, Kayla and Tiffany (@peachy.paperbacks @drunk.on.books.and.wine)! We buddy-read this book by reading a section each day and then discussing it each evening. This was so fun to do because the story is rather ambiguous and we had lots to speculate and discuss every day!
I was a little let down by the conclusion of the story; I wanted to know more about a few of the characters and felt reconciliation wasn’t entirely complete. But! Even that said, I truly enjoyed this tale of self discovery.
Thank you for reading my review on Goodreads! Follow me on Instagram (@journeyofthepages) for further bookish engagement! www.instragram.com/journeyofthepages I hope to meet you there!