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The Perfume Lover: A Personal Story of Scent [Kindle Edition]

Denyse Beaulieu
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

‘Why couldn’t I be a perfumer’s muse? I’ve come such a long way in the realm of scent. In fact, I was never really meant to poke my nose into it …’

The Perfume Lover by Denyse Beaulieu is an intimate journey into the mystery of scent.

What if the most beautiful night in your life inspired a fragrance?

Denyse Beaulieu is a respected fragrance writer; it is her world, her love, her life. When she was growing up, perfume was forbidden in her house, spurring a childhood curiosity that went on to become an intellectual and sensual passion.

It is this passion she pursued all the way to Paris, where she now lives, and entered the secretive world of the perfume industry. But little did she know that it would lead her to achieve a fragrance lover’s wildest dream …

When Denyse tells a famous perfumer of a sensual night spent in Seville under an orange tree in full blossom, wrapped in the arms of a beautiful young man, the story stirs his imagination and together they create a scent that captures the essence of that night. This is the story of that perfume.

As the unique creative collaboration unfolds, the perfume-in-progress conjures intimate memories, leading Beaulieu to make sense of her life through scents. Throughout, she weaves the evocative history of perfumery into her personal journey, in an intensely passionate voice: the masters and the masterpieces; the myths and the myth-busting, down to the molecular mysteries that weld our flesh to flowers…

The Perfume Lover is an unprecedented account of the creative process that goes into composing a fragrance, and a uniquely candid insider’s view into the world and history of fragrance.

Your world will never smell the same.

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Product Description


“Femme fatale Denyse Beaulieu undresses the art of perfumery with a sensual, scintillating striptease.”

“A uniquely personal–even intimate–story of a love affair with perfume and with Paris. Chatty, gossipy, and charming, THE PERFUME LOVER draws aside the veil on the secret world of scent.”

“A gorgeous romp through the history of perfume and a personal exploration of its role in Beaulieu's life as a woman and world class sensualist … A thoroughly delectable and passionately intelligent read.”
Debra Ollivier, author of the bestseller WHAT FRENCH WOMEN KNOW

“Written with wit and passion, insight and elegance. I read if first with interest and then again, for pleasure.”
Fragrances of the World

About the Author

Denyse Beaulieu is a Paris-based fragrance writer and industry consultant who established herself as one of the foremost bloggers in the field with Grain de Musc. She has learned the principles of perfume composition with the help of some of the profession’s most prestigious noses.
Her expertise has been acknowledged by at the London College of Fashion where she teaches an intensive “Understanding Fragrance” course and the Société Française des Parfumeurs where she is lecturer. She was born in Canada, where she first started as a writer by covering the punk rock scene for local magazines, and moved to Paris 25 years ago to do her Ph.D. at the Université Paris VII on the Marquis de Sade.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for perfume lovers! 11 Nov. 2012
By Anna Bindi VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Difficult to tell what the author is trying to convey with this book. In a nutshell, we are faced with an extremely long-winded "dissertation" about various fragrance compounds and relative methods of extraction, interspersed with non-descriptive passages about the author's "risque" encounters and other stereotypical personal experiences. If you love perfumes or have an interest in perfume making you will not learn anything new, if on the other hand you are a perfume newbie, this book will not encourage you to learn any further. Sadly, just give this one a miss.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of three halves 19 Mar. 2012
The sections of this book that concern the history of perfume and the creation of a brand new perfume are absorbing, and are as beautifully written as practically anything else you'll read this year. Sadly, the lengthy sections dealing with the "personal history" of the author are, (at times) unintentionally hilarious and (almost always) utterly cringeworthy.

Taking the media images of sex and fragrance rather too literally, the author seeks to make her own history as fascinating and as erotic as perfume itself, and this, at times, amounts to little more than a guided tour of her (sexy, natch) underwear and the contents thereof - I lost count of how many times the phrase "and the hand in my knickers!" was used - all of which culminates in a faked orgasm demonstration for your delight and edification. The author does admit, finally, to having a madonna/whore complex, but it's rather more Bet Lynch than Madonna.

All of this rather falls short of fascination after the first couple of "sexytimes" interludes and the eroticism, simply put, just isn't erotic, making this a rather embarrassing and somewhat frustrating book for the average reader - if the memoir sections had been cut, and the prancing, preening, "aren't I fabulously sexy, dahling?" sections been kept to a minimum, then this would have been a great book.

Read it for the descriptive prose, and use it as a primer about perfume, but just try to skim over the "fur coat and no knickers" sections.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Adolescent Ego Trip 15 Mar. 2014
Agree with other reviewers. The factual parts on the perfume industry are interesting in places and I felt that - as someone who loathes most perfumes - I did learn a bit more about how they are made, their ingredients, history, etc.

For me, though, the book is spoilt by the author's pathetic and egocentric harping on her status as God's gift to men, her recounting of her tawdry affairs as if they were the height of sophistication and she was one of the grandes horizontales of gay Paree. Only the most unsophisticated would be remotely impressed. Even her accounts of her meetings with the perfumer she works with to create 'her' perfume are all about her, how he reacts to her, and the importance of her role. Enough already! Don't know if she really is this vain or insecure - if not, it's a shame she has created a persona for herself which evokes neither liking nor respect..

The very worst bit is saved for the end, when she recounts the night in Seville which inspired the perfume in breathless Mills and Boon style. Embarrassing from an adolescent, worse from a woman who must be pushing 50 or more.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, mostly 16 Jan. 2012
By Mrs. R.
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The perfume which is the centrepiece of Denyse Beaulieu's book is due out at L'Artisan Parfumeur this spring, named Seville a l'Aube, about the same time as The Perfume Lover reaches the bookshops. I was in L'Artisan's Covent Garden shop last Friday and they were swooning over this new scent; the staff member who'd lived in Seville said that it smelled just right. So top marks to perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour who gets the best supporting artist role in the book. Top billing goes to Denyse Beaulieu. Let's be fair; she does call the book a personal story, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite that personal.

A Perfume Lover is three books braided together skillfully: one part history and development of perfume, one part creation of her scent with Duchaufour, and one part autobiography. In parts one and two we learn loads about the perfume industry, often from her reports of conversations with Duchaufour and other perfumers. Then Beaulieu writes about her relationships with men and the influence they had on her choice of perfumes. She does seems oddly proud of her affair with the married "Monsieur", her infidelities in general, and particularly her cleavage. She lost my empathy early on when she described putting the puppies in the window - showing her cleavage - a ruse she said she often used as a journalist to extract information. For shame! She also wrote "A Cultural History of Sexuality" and this other area of interest pushes its puppies on to the pages of A Perfume Lover quite often. If that's what you like, great, but I didn't find it edifying. I'd have been happy just learning more about scent. I'm guessing that some readers will find this alluring, but for me it made her sound like what they call up north a bit of a slapper.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scents and Sensibility 5 Jan. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Make no mistake, author Denyse Bealieu is quite a gal! As likely to
be consuming Jaques Derrida before breakfast as she is stowing her
underwear in her handbag whilst in the lift on the way to an amorous
liaison. She is an exotic creature with an innate sense of style and
a great nose to boot! Her book 'The Perfume Lover : A Personal History
Of Scent' is a cracking read, even for the uninitiated. It delivers
just what it says on the bottle. Her insight into the perfume industry and
the colourful characters who design some of the world's most exclusive
and much-loved fragrances is both fascinating and entertaining. It is
clear from the off that she knows her subject inside out and both her
passion and and knowledge bounce off the page in beautifully wrought prose.

At the heart of the book is her collaboration with perfumer Bertrand
Duchaufour to create a scent which might encapsulate a fondly remembered
night of passion in Seville some years before. M. Duchaufour evidently knows
his onions when it comes to making perfume and their journey takes us through
ninety variations before arriving at the final realization; adding and
subtracting a myriad of rare olfactory substances in pursuit of the elusive
and ineffable notes which will pin down Mlle Beaulieu's romantic reverie.
Her way with words (she tends towards the French absorption with semiotics)
is both detailed and playful and mixes up historical illumination with
personal experience and technical nous to nail her subject to the mast.

If her publisher produces a "scratch 'n' sniff" edition I'll be the first in line!

Highly Recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars An editors's job needed
A highly irritating book!

Fascinating sections dealing with the creation of her own scent, and matters pertaning to that.

Did the book have an editor? Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ms D P Wisbey
5.0 out of 5 stars The passion of perfume!
Another recommended read. A seductive book that's inspirational and eye opening on many levels. Great book if you're passionate about perfume
Published 21 months ago by Sophie Innes
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I really expected..
I was expecting this to be a nook about the creation and manufacture of Fragrancs, however, it s rather more an autobiography concerning the author's entry into the business. Read more
Published on 18 April 2013 by Saturnicus
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is this book for? Not sure, but it's good...
I thought this was just a gorgeous book! Readable, fascinating, personal and easy to sink in to. But I can see that it's also a bit of a muddle. Is it autobiography? Is it fiction? Read more
Published on 15 Jan. 2013 by Gabrielle O
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 words sum up this book
'Intellectual, olfactory, eroticism'. This book contains everything you need to know about why men and women are drawn to particular fragrances and includes their origins and... Read more
Published on 5 Aug. 2012 by Allison O'Kelly
2.0 out of 5 stars How do you describe a scent?
I got this title because I remember fondly reading Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. This book is partly historical information about perfume, partly the process of creation of a... Read more
Published on 29 July 2012 by @iGlinavos
2.0 out of 5 stars tedious and fascinating at the same time...
Hmm. Well, I loved reading all the sections about perfumery, the history of scents, tales of the famous 'noses' etc. Read more
Published on 4 Jun. 2012 by L. Bretherton
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite hard to get in to....
This was a tough start and it took some time before I was engaged in the style of writing- the title suggested more fact and perhaps less fiction- ESP someone like myself who... Read more
Published on 28 May 2012 by avid british reader
2.0 out of 5 stars The smell of purple prose.
I chose this after talking to a friend who works in Lush about perfumes. Unfortunately for me this was too much autobiography and not enough about the perfumes. Read more
Published on 5 May 2012 by J. Charlesworth
4.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for the scratch and sniff version.
This beautifully written book by Denyse Beaulieu really tells two intertwined stories; that of the author, beginning her life allergic to perfume yet intriged with scent living the... Read more
Published on 5 May 2012 by Paolo Sammut
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