The Perfume Lover by Denyse Beaulieu “Grain de Musc”

26 Mar

In summary:- the author’s perfumed journey through life, a vivid and sensual experience in Seville during Holy Week, and, inspired by the latter experience, what she has made of the opportunity to work with  master perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour.

Seville is one of my favourite cities, and I love perfume, so I awaited the book with interest.  Everyone should experience Semana Santa and the Feria de Abril,  which heighten the unique mix of the sacred and the profane posessed by the city and its inhabitants.  Beaulieu’s witty elegant prose captures the City’s hidden olfactory landscape .  I say hidden as most visitors to Seville will first encounter the whiff of drains and delicious deep fried seafood.

But the book is not a travelogue at all, and Seville is a supporting player. It is mainly a fascinating insight into the complex process of creating a perfume.  Some of the best passages recount the conversations between perfumer and author as they go down a long and winding road together with many detours and delays.  As a vraie perfumista, Beaulieu’s delight in the project is infectious, and we feel her and Duchaufour’s struggle to achieve “duende”.

There is a strong autobiographical thread in the book and I felt that the polished prose would have been enhanced by some pictures or photos, as that is often an enjoyable part of an autobiography.  Also the lack of a perfume sample with the book is quite unforgiveable!!  As I live a long way from anywhere which stocks L’Artisan, it will be a long while before I can sample the “juice” and it would have been great to read the book and sniff the perfume at the same time.

A must read for perfumistas, but you might want to wait until the perfume is out there before opening the book……

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