Smell your way through these books

  • The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister 


    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.

  • The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell by Luca Turin

    Funny, irreverent and passionate, The Secret of Scent opens the lid on two worlds – the glamorous and highly lucrative realm of the perfume makers, and the equally rivalrous domain of smell science.

    Smell is our forgotten sense. Long neglected by science in favour of more prestigious areas of research, it’s also barely understood in general life. At the core of our sense of smell lies an enigma: why do things smell the way they do? How is smell written into the molecules? This book is the story of the quest to solve this puzzle.

    Luca Turin has been described in The Economist as ‘a man with a powerful nose and a bizarre obsession with perfume.’ Starting with a tour of the great perfumes and their gifted makers, he shows how few people have an idea of what perfume is or how it is made, let alone how smell works and what part it plays in other pleasures like food. But not everyone has ignored this powerful sense. A small band of mavericks has been trying to crack the code of smell for seventy years. Building on their work, Turin thinks he has succeeded. And like all good mysteries, the solution was all the while hidden in plain sight – in this case, right under our noses.

  • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick SüskindJohn E. Woods 

    An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind’s classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man’s indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.

    In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift—an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.

  • The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro 

    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 decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary women who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers. Immortalized in three evocative perfumes, Eva d’Orsey’s history will transform Grace’s life forever, forcing her to choose between the woman she is expected to be and the person she really is.

    The Perfume Collector explores the complex and obsessive love between muse and artist, and the tremendous power of memory and scent. 

  • The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession by Chandler Burr 

    The Emperor of Scent tells of the scientific maverick Luca Turin, a connoisseur and something of an aesthete who wrote a bestselling perfume guide and bandied about an outrageous new theory on the human sense of smell.

    Drawing on cutting-edge work in biology, chemistry, and physics, Turin used his obsession with perfume and his eerie gift for smell to turn the cloistered worlds of the smell business and science upside down, leading to a solution to the last great mystery of the senses: how the nose works.

  • The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York by Chandler Burr 

    From the New York Times perfume critic, a stylish, fascinating, unprecedented insider’s view of the global perfume industry, told through two creators working on two very different scents.

    No journalist has ever been allowed into the ultrasecretive, highly pressured process of originating a perfume. But Chandler Burr, the New York Times perfume critic, spent a year behind the scenes observing the creation of two major fragrances. Now, writing with wit and elegance, he juxtaposes the stories of the perfumes — one created by a Frenchman in Paris for an exclusive luxury-goods house, the other made in New York by actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Coty, Inc., a giant international corporation.

    In Paris at the elegant Hermès, we see Jean Claude Ellena, his company’s new head perfumer, given a challenge: he must create a scent to resuscitate Hermès’s perfume business and challenge le monstre of the industry, bestselling Chanel No. 5. Will his pilgrimage to a garden on the Nile supply the inspiration he needs?

    The Perfect Scent is the story of two daring creators, two very different scents, and a billion-dollar industry that runs on the invisible magic of perfume.

  • The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena 

    The French bestseller The Diary of a Nose is the story behind the creation of a perfume, from the head perfumer at Hermès.

    Perfume creation is an exclusive and secretive endeavour. What is day to day life like for a perfume-maker? How does the creation of a new scent begin? How do you capture the essence of a smell on the skin?

    For one year, Jean-Claude Ellena kept a diary of his life as ‘parfumeur exclusif’ (‘le nez’ or ‘the nose’) for Hermès. Believing that creating a scent is like creating a work of art, and describing himself as a writer using ‘olfactory colours’, he explains how all of the five senses come into play when creating a perfume. He also reveals how inspiration can come from a market stall, a landscape, or even the movement of calligraphy, and concludes this charming, perceptive diary with recipes for natural fragrances, each made up of three synthetic ingredients, to create the illusion of smells like freesia, orange blossom, grapefruit, pear, chocolate, cashew and cotton candy.

    This is the story of a quest to capture what is most elusive. Jean-Claude Ellena offer readers a rare insight into the secrets of his business, his art, and his life as one of the world’s most important and admired perfumers. 

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