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The Book of Lost Fragrances [Paperback]

M. J. Rose
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.66
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Product details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (12 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451621485
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451621488
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, interesting and unusual suspense 29 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent suspense melding the world of perfumery with reincarnation. The ideas in the book are based on the premise that smell is such a stong sense that odours/perfume/scents can evoke in us memories of where/when we smelt that particular smell before. So, if a perfume/scent can do that, could thay make us regress to past life memories?

The L'Etoile family are perfumiers. In the 18 century Gile L'Etoile discovered, in Egypt, clay jars with the essense of a perfume still lingering in them. For generations the L'Etoiles have believed that those "lost" jars contained an fragrance that enabled people to regress to distant lives. Robbie L'Etoile has taken over the family business from his ill father, only Robbie isn't the real "nose" of the family, his sister Jac is. The problem is that when Jac was 15 years old she suffered a trauma and has not entered the family laboratory since and refuses to have anything to do with the perfumery.

Robbie finds that his father has left a mountain of debts and chaos and the only way out of the mess is to sell two of the firm's signature perfumes, which he is reluctant to do. Then he finds shards of a broken pot which date back to ancient Egypt. Do they prove that the family legend is true. Jac is sceptical. Then the pair find that shards are wanted by people who will stop at nothing, even murder, to get them.

The story is interlaced with two other stories from the past and the plight of modern day Tibet.

Vastly enjoyable. It held me all the way through and it takes a lot to do that nowdays. Extremely good book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Shazjera TOP 1000 REVIEWER
When I saw The Book of Lost Fragrances on NetGalley, not only did the suspense and historical aspect draw me in ... I've also read and experienced how scent/aroma is a trigger to memory. Add in the mystery of reincarnation and I'm totally hooked!

We begin our reading journey with a prologue. This is a newspaper report that explains the unrest in Tibet, the 14 part regulation banning living Buddha's from reincarnating without permission and the abduction of a Panchen Lama. This is one of the threads that links with the L'Etoile family discovery.

A large part of the story is spent in the present time - with Jac and her brother Robbie, with the Chinese Mafia in Paris and Xie Ping in China. The timeline does regress. In Egypt in 1799 we meet Giles L'Etoile while he is exploring Nefertum's tomb (the god of perfume) with Napolean and further back, Cleopatra and her obsession with perfumes. This may sound confusing but it isn't ... it's all linked with the discovery Robbie found in the family archives. Each chapter gives the reader just enough information so that there is a need to keep turning those pages to see what will happen and how it will all come together.

The characters have had childhood trauma or have an obsession and therefore have something to prove. It's the obsession that leads the story through the suspense, crime and mystery. The romance is sparked when Griffin (someone from Jac's past) is involved in the discovery by Robbie. I really can't say much more without giving away too much! The intimacy is beautifully written and will touch your soul.

Robbie's discovery is coveted by different factions for different reasons but underlying this is Jac's childhood experiences of visions that have made her feel insecure about her own stability.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  180 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Potent elixir of a novel 13 Mar 2012
By SD - Published on Amazon.com
The Book of Lost Fragrances is the epitome of what I enjoy the most about M.J. Rose's works: fascinating historical facts mixed with thought-provoking spirituality and exciting storylines to form a potent elixir of a novel. Like the most complex perfumes, this book had layers of intrigue, most ostensibly involving the Chinese suppression of Tibetan Buddhists and a French family of perfumers' personal and financial troubles. These two initially separate narratives eventually collide in thrilling action which centers around an ancient legend of a perfume with unique, magical properties.

These sections, where Rose describes scents and their powerful associations, transported me. If words could have aromas, then Rose's writing is lyrical fragrance.

The magical perfume at the heart of the novel, and one which everyone is desperately searching for, at whatever cost, is that of "âmes souers" or the scent of soul mates. Rose weaves a legend that Cleopatra, still in love with the dead Julius Caesar, commissions a very special concoction, that which will allow her in her future lives the ability to find her soul mate, Caesar, no matter where or when, through scent.

The mixture of memory, scent, and love is a powerful and heady combination. The passages dealing with doomed lovers through the centuries were the most moving for me. For instance, this image of a woman pining for the man who broke her heart and buying bottles of his scent because she's still in love with him.

"Jac thought the scent promised stories, too, but based on its essences. Its ingredients were as old as the Bible: bergamot, lemon, honey, ylang ylang, vetiver, civet, and musk. Rich florals and animalic accords that blended together to create a particular scent that for her would always be associated with Griffin. With their time together. With wonder. With falling in love. With a cessation of loneliness. And then with anger and brutal grief.

"Long after they'd broken up, she still scanned tables at flea markets and auctions on eBay, buying up even half-empty bottles. In the recesses of the armoire in her bedroom, she had a cache of eight bottles. Even sealed packaging, even in the dark, cologne evaporated. Like moments in your life. Time fades the details."

"The powerful musk embraced and enveloped her, lulled her into believing that she was still with Griffin---that she'd once more found the soul she was truly connected to."

Along with the poignant love stories of soul mates found and lost, The Book of Lost Fragrances is charged with multiple, exciting plots and backed by meticulous research. Throw in exotic Ancient Egypt, the glamour of Paris, as well as its macabre catacombs, and you've a wonderful, fictional concoction.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sensuous Read 4 May 2012
By Elena Yates Eulo - Published on Amazon.com
M. J. Rose's latest addition to her best-selling thrillers on reincarnation, A BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES, is spellbinding and so rich with fragrances, past and present, that I literally found myself sniffing the pages. Beyond that, this book holds all of the elements that keep a reader up all night, heart thumping for the long-ago lovers who spring to life anew, fated to continue their romances in a new time and with new bodies. As always, Rose's action is riveting, her characters likable and three-dimensional, and her sense for exotic locations enthralling. Her historical authenticity rings true and you really do find yourself in Cleopatra's catacomb, getting a lingering whiff of the long-lost fragrance along with Napoleon. Even His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, makes an appearance. This book is a real treat for both the mind and the senses.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic suspense complete with mystery and romance 13 Mar 2012
By Robert Carraher - Published on Amazon.com
A deeply satisfying mixture of Ann Rice (Vampire Series, Mayfair Witches) meets Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code), M.J. Rose crafts a tale that combines obscure history with modern day current events into a Gothic suspense thriller in the vein of Cornell Woolrich. It's also a romance spanning two thousand years of history from Cleopatra's Egypt, and her Persimmon Groves, to Ancient and modern Tibet, China to New York City and Revolutionary France to the current day beauty of Paris. It lures the reader into a plot that is as intriguing as the perfume at it's center.

Jac L'Etoile along with her brother, Robbie, are the heir to the famous and once profitable L'Etoile Parfumerie in France. She now lives in the U.S. and has a `myth busters-like' cable TV show having left the running of the family business to her brother Robbie. Jac is a fragile women who suffered from delusional episodes as a child after her mothers suicide. She was treated by renown hypnotist and reincarnationist Malachi Samuels of the Phoenix Foundation.

In Paris, Robbie has discovered a collection of Egyptian pottery shards that once held what is thought to be a perfume that could aid in revealing past lives and reuniting soul mates across the centuries. It may be a memory tool, sought by Malachi, Tibetan Buddhists and shadowy factions of different governments.

Inscribed on the pieces of pottery are a clue to Cleopatra's The Book of Lost Fragrances. With the help of Jac's one time lover and Robbie's friend, Egyptologist and Archeologist, Griffin North, Robbie hopes to translate the characters on the pottery shards and ultimately deliver them to the Dali Lama. He also wants to decipher the perfume that the shards once held in the hopes of being able to reproduce the perfume and resurrect the fortunes of the L'Etoile Parfumerie. But modern science can only identify four of the ingredients, the last, thought to be lost to history. What is more intriguing is the perfume is thought to reunite reincarnated soul mates, having been invented by Cleopatra's own perfumer, just before his death, for his lover so that they would be able to recognize each other when they meet in the future.

In Tibet, the Chinese government not only has made being reincarnated against the law with out government approval, so as to suppress the `birth' of The Panchen Lama (and thus Tibetan Buddhism), who alone can recognize the new Dali Lama when it becomes time to announce him to the world. China is rumored to have kidnapped and brain washed the child said to be reincarnate for this purpose. But in China, this child, called Xie Ping and educated as a calligrapher, has remembered despite the brain washing attempt and is scheduled to join a group of Chinese art students on a trip to Paris.

In New York, Doctor Samuel Malachi, who is a friend of both Jac and Robbie L'Etoile wants the shards for his own purposes. He wishes to possess them as `memory tools' so that he might prove reincarnation to the science as well as government world's.

On the brink of bankruptcy, Robbie has resisted financial offers by Malachi that could just barely pay his family's debt. He has also opposed his sister, Jac's wish to sell two of the firms signature scents to a major perfume factory to achieve the same ends. Robbie is sure that Jac's `nose' could identify the lost ingredient, and thus help him recreate this scent of soul mates. He is also moved to deliver the shards to the Dali Lama in Paris at an art show that he thinks the Dali Lama may attend.

When someone tries to kill Robbie, one late night, as he is working in his father lab, trying to translate the ancient characters on the pottery, as well as find the rumored Book Of Lost Fragrances, Robbie disappears, leaving the would be assassin dead on the floor. Jac fly's to France where she is confronted by the police. She is also reunited with Griffin, who she still loves and they join forces to find Robbie and the shards. Malachi, supposedly as a family friend and Jac's therapist soon follows her to Paris where he stirs the interest of both the French and Americans since he is a suspected `memory tool' thief.

As these competing forces come together in pursuit of the shards and their secret, the plot takes us through the streets of Paris, both in the modern day as well as Napoleon's Paris and the French Revolution's violence and through the catacombs of subterranean Paris as assassin's and entrepreneurs, Buddhist nuns and the police pursue their own competing motives.

Rose captures the reader with her beautiful and evocative prose as well as the historical details and the emotional love story that make this plot as irresistible as the scent that brings together soul mates. The Gothic details; the ancient mansion and the secrets it holds(both the home, boutique and perfumery of the L'Etoile's) as well as the detail of both modern day and 17th century France, the atmosphere of both mystery and suspense, the foreshadowing of ghosts and doom and the dreams. The legends and haunting memories at the edge of consciousness Jac suffers, that might be reincarnationist memories or the reoccurrence of madness. These are all used masterfully and aren't so heavy as to impede the pace. The historical data and the liberal sprinkling of invented historical detail mesh together like an ancient puzzle.

Rose has entered another realm and written what is bound to be one of this years best books. The Book Of Lost Fragrance's could be considered the fourth book in the The Reincarnationist series, along side ,The Reincarnationist, The Memorist , and The Hypnotist but it reads excellently as a stand-alone novel or an introduction to the rest of the series. The book will be released on March 13th but can be preordered today by following the links above.

The Dirty Lowdown
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost in smells 16 April 2012
By M. Wing - Published on Amazon.com
I love historical fiction and M.J. Rose does a good job weaving it into the story. However, there was just too many superfluous things going on. The main plot was good, the characters were somewhat defined, but really needed to know more about Jac. The Chinese calligrapher story was weak and a distraction from the rest of the plot. Also, if a writer is describing a scene as in the catacombs, it must be clear and this was not. The overall plot was good but seemed anticlimatic.

I did enjoy the history of Cleopatra and all the references to fragrances.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun escapist fic! 21 Mar 2012
By Unabridged Chick - Published on Amazon.com
Last summer I read M.J. Rose's The Hypnotist, which was a perfect summer thriller, and so I was excited about her next book in her reincarnation series. I wasn't disappointed; in fact, I enjoyed this one more than The Hypnotist, perhaps because I liked the main characters and I enjoyed the intrigue.

It's been shockingly summer-y in Boston this spring, and I spent a few happy nights with this book, wine (although tea was tempting, given all the descriptions of fabulously unique blended teas the characters drank), and my sunny porch. While this is the fourth in a series, I've found each book works very well as stand alone novels. Only one character really spans the four books (I believe), and his role is explained clearly. References are made to his connection with the previous novel's, and I had enough info to enjoy this one.

The plot is fun enough: a French-American family of perfumers stumble upon what might be the recipe for a fragrance that will allow people to recall their previous lives. Robbie, a Buddhist, is convinced this perfume exists and would assist the Tibetans and the Dalai Lama in achieving independence from China; Jac, his sister, is a pragmatic myth buster, of sorts, afflicted with horrible visions and a broken heart. At odds about their family's failing perfume atelier, they become the focus of nefarious groups wanting the possibly magical perfume. There's some romantic drama, reincarnation-y flashbacks, international intrigue, and lots of tantalizing descriptions of scent and fragrances.

For those who like French historicals or novels set in Paris, this is for you. If you're not a paranormal fan, I'm not sure if this novel will appeal. Reincarnation is treated as a thing, a life event like any other, so the supernatural-y-ness is pretty low, but if reincarnation seems fantastical to you, then this will read as a bit of a fantasy. This felt more like a religious thriller -- minus the Catholic church -- than an urban fantasy or supernatural fic.
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