The Perfume Collector

The Perfume Collector - Kathleen Tessaro

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The Perfume Collector is a historical set in an interesting time. Starting in 1955, before backtracking to the 1920s, it’s a mystery, and romance, that largely explores the roles and tragedies of independent women in a pre-second wave society. 

I will say, it’s not an overly thrilling mystery. The secret connecting Grace Monroe, English socialite, and Eva D’Orsey; American maid and perfume collector, becomes evident pretty early on. The foreshadowing is heavy handed, (the black bobs,) and sometimes I wanted the pace to pick up. However, the book makes up for a light mystery by being richly detailed and emotionally powerful. It’s lush.

I found myself charmed by Eva and, despite knowing her eventual fate, I kept hoping for a happy ending. In fact, I was completely in love with the story and both POVs, right up until the Lolita shit that 13 year old girls are totally seducing poor old men and they're the real injured parties. Gross as hell. It really put a cloud over the middle of the book that took a long time to shake off.

However, I did overcome that icky feeling and truly reveled in Eva’s transformation from unnoticed maid to professional gambler and again into shopgirl and muse and finally...well let’s not spoil that. Grace’s transformation took place over a much smaller scale, but felt like a bigger accomplishment in a lot of ways. In all, a beautiful story.