Amidst the competition to win a prestigious position as in-house perfumer for a renowned designer’s house, NYC-based Zoe Flore learns that she has inherited—from an unknown great aunt in Grasse, France—the formula to her mother's unforgettable signature scent.
Winning the contract with her mother's perfume soon takes a backseat when the formula is stolen and Zoe is forced to recreate it from memory. But a family she didn't know existed isn't the only thing that Zoe will find on her trip; she will unwillingly join forces with a competitor, and learn of a thwarted love affair that broke her mother's heart and which she never forgot.
If you marvel at the color of sunrise or the smell of jasmine in a summer afternoon, then you should read A Perfumer's Secret. I liked it a great deal and read it faster than I have been reading for months. Gorgeously described, this novel details the quest of a woman to find her sense of self and belonging in the world. Interlaced with the beautiful descriptions of abstract fragrances and what not, were some expletives that felt out of place, but I guess people in idyllic places use bad words as well.
Somehow the novel felt like an American story transplanted to a small French town, (e.g., using the phrase "downtown Grasse", teenagers eating pizza, fries with ketchup, and drinking soda like there was no tomorrow...) I have no way to know if those things I picked up were or not out of place, but they seemed more at home in America than in France.
Despite some minor flaws that may very well be a matter of taste, A Perfumer's Secret is a novel that deserves to be read on the basis of its luscious images.