A secret history of scent, memory and desire from the Sunday Times bestselling author of ELEGANCE and THE DEBUTANTE.
One letter will turn newly-married Grace Munroe’s life upside down:
‘Our firm is handling the estate of the deceased Mrs Eva D’Orsey and it is our duty to inform you that you are named as the chief beneficiary in her will.’
So begins a journey which leads Grace through the streets of Paris and into the seductive world of perfumers and their muses. An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank will lead her to unravel the heartbreaking story of her mysterious benefactor, an extraordinary woman who bewitched high society in 1920s New York and Paris.
Praise for The Perfume Collector:
‘This evocative novel spins you back a few decades to the grace and elegance of the ‘20s and ‘50s’ GLAMOUR
‘A mesmerising novel of passion and scent’ WOMAN AND HOME
‘The joy in Tessaro’s books is her knack for describing glamour. She leaves readers greedy for satin and lace, for angular cocktail dresses and complex scents spilling from beautiful bottles. It’s a voluptuous and desirable world to drop into, but her characters have enough depth and moral ambiguity to lift this above most’ EMERALD STREET
Praise for The Debutante:
'It's an elegant and glamorous plot …which means lots of mouth-watering descriptions of decaying stately homes by the sea'
‘A shoebox filled with mementoes sets artist Cate on a hunt for the truth behind the disappearance of a dazzling 1920’s ‘it’ girl in Kathleen Tessaro’s The Debutante’
‘Reading The Debutante was the most delicious treat. Engrossing, romantic, wise and witty – the perfect read. I could not put it down’
Gillian Greenwood, author of Satisfaction and The Ghost Lover
About the author
Born in Pittsburgh, Kathleen Tessaro studied drama before emigrating to London. After ten years working as an actress in films, television, and theatre, she left the profession and spent several years working for the English National Opera, while training in the evenings as a drama teacher and voice coach. During this time, she began to write. Working on short stories during her lunch hour, she soon became a regular member of a writers workshop.
Tessaro (Innocence) dazzles the senses in this novel about a reluctant British socialite who receives a mysterious inheritance from an unknown Frenchwoman in 1950s Europe. Tessaro's flashback-layered narrative concerns the mildly clich d Grace Munroe, a London housewife yearning for a sense of purpose, and Eva d'Orsey, an older Frenchwoman "living between memory and regret." After Eva dies, Grace is surprised to receive a letter naming her as chief beneficiary. Upon arriving in Paris she meets Edouard Tissot, Eva's lawyer and, predictably, a potential love interest. Searching for her connection to Eva, Grace discovers a derelict perfume shop staffed by Russian-born master perfumer Madame Zed, who weaves a preachy morality tale about the downfall of young orphaned Eva in New York City a quarter-century before. As Eva's history surfaces, Grace finds the value in her inheritance and the price Eva paid to bestow it. Predictably, Tessaro cycles between narratives, but brings the cities to life, from the "dreamy, shifting blues and dusky greens" of a London "Turner watercolour" morning to the "glowing softness" of Paris. Nuanced observations soften the blow of the contrived banter, familiar form, and one particularly overindulgent shopping-day passage.