Monday, August 6, 2012

Back to the Present

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

Reviewed by Marlyn Beebe.

When her mother committed suicide, Jac L'Etoile turned her back on the family business (the House of L'Etoile is one of the most storied perfumeries in France), moved to the United States and eventually created a Mythbusters-type television series. Now her father Louis has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and is unable to continue his craft.  Jac's brother Robbie is taking over, but the business is in severe financial trouble.  Jac wants to sell the rights to some of Etoile's signature scents, but Robbie disagrees.  He's certain that there is a secret fragrance that triggers olfactory memory, allowing people to remember who they were in previous incarnations, and that Giles L'Etoile who began the company in the 18th Century, has hidden the formula somewhere on the L'Etoile property in Paris.

Robbie hires Griffin North, an Egyptologist, to translate the hieroglyphics on some shards of pottery that Giles brought back from Egypt, hoping that they will provide a clue.

Psychiatrist Malachi Samuels believes in reincarnation and the controversial theory that knowing about past lives helps people avoid repeating mistakes they'd otherwise make over and over.  He's part of a group that will do almost anything to acquire the L'Etoiled fabled scent, which will make regression infinitely easier.

Racing to find the formula before the creditors take over, Robbie disappears, leaving an unidentified man lying dead on the floor of his office. Where is Robbie?  Is he a murderer?  Who's the dead guy?  What happened to the pieces of pottery:?

These are all questions that Jac must find answers to when she rushes home upon learning of her brother's disappearance.

There are a lot of threads in this book,  and though they appear completely disconnected, they come together to form a brilliant and tightly woven story.  The language is as lush and powerful as the scent that was created to accompany the book.  (As one of those who pre-ordered the book through the publisher, I received a sample.)

M.J. Rose has researched all the different aspects of the plot thoroughly, and proves it in the Glossary at the end. 

FTC Full Disclosure:  I purchased a copy of this book.


  1. MJ Rose is a talented and creative author, as well as a brilliant marketer. Creating a scent to go with her book! She's also a very nice person. Thanks for a great review.

  2. What an intriguing story! And the cover is beautiful.

    I agree with LJ… this is a great review. Thanks, Marlyn.

  3. Intriguing review, and I love the title. I must check it out.

  4. Sounds like an intriguing story! I haven't read anything by MJ Rose yet - must check her out!

    Thanks for sharing, Marlyn.


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