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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, mostly
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...
Published on 16 Jan. 2012 by Mrs. R.

versus
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of three halves
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...
Published on 19 Mar. 2012 by Hattiesburg Fiddlefaddle


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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
This review is from: The Perfume Lover (Hardcover)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for perfume lovers!, 11 Nov. 2012
By 
Anna Bindi (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Perfume Lover (Hardcover)
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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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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, mostly, 16 Jan. 2012
By 
Mrs. R. "Polymath" (London, England, UK.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Perfume Lover (Hardcover)
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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.

There are also the whimsical takes intertwining her personal thread with the big perfumery picture. It couldn't be by chance, she muses, that her name Denyse encompases that of "the beautiful whore, Nys" who wore Narcisse Noir. Of course it's by chance. A dafter statement you'll rarely read in print. Is it by chance that my own surname encompases the word "art"? Yes.

However, there's a lot of substance here. She writes beautifully about scent, so even though we have to go the scenic route, via four inch heels, the fur coat, the lovers and the cleavage, it's a fascinating book about perfume and one that sweeps nothing under the carpet. I found it self-indulgent, but it rarely lost my interest - only in the bits about the rich bald bloke who buys her shoes and stuff. I wonder what the PR people think.
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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
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Perfume Lover (Hardcover)
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Adolescent Ego Trip, 15 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Perfume Lover (Hardcover)
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars tedious and fascinating at the same time..., 4 Jun. 2012
By 
L. Bretherton "dempie" (Tiverton, Devon) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Perfume Lover (Hardcover)
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Hmm. Well, I loved reading all the sections about perfumery, the history of scents, tales of the famous 'noses' etc. But the personal details of Denise's life were all a bit too egotistical and not that gripping.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much Denyse Information, 29 Dec. 2011
By 
This review is from: The Perfume Lover (Hardcover)
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I kept veering backwards and forwards with this book, between enjoyment and irritation, the further I got into its journey. Initially, a detailed breakdown of the olfactory notes of various essential oils and absolutes, and an engaging writing style, had me clutching the book (whilst sniffing its pages) with delight. However, as we progressed I began to be less enamoured, as the book is more about Denyse, and her in-your-face femme fatale personality than I really had an interest in. I feel as if I've learned rather more about her undergarments, her erotic adventures, her vampy shoes and furs than I needed. Despite clearly being hugely knowledgeable about the perfume industry, with which she periodically recaptured my interest, and despite several nods and mentions to other acknowledged experts in the field of perfumery or olfaction - Chandler Burr, the inimitable Luca Turin, Jellinek et al - all of whom have a well-loved place on my bookshelves, Denyse herself resolutely hogs centre stage. It's somehow all of a piece that though she quotes from some of these experts and sources, there is no crediting of them, no bibliography.

This is a book about perfume, and more specifically about one woman and her desire to be a muse to a perfumer and have a scent created for her which goes live and commercial. It's not a book about olfaction per se, and it's probably therefore not quite fair to compare it to another recent read, another personal journey, with aroma as its theme, the utterly absorbing Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way by Molly Birnbaum. That book is really about a wider field - olfaction itself, and anosmia, but Birnbaum's less purely self-absorbed writing gives the space for other experts to speak to the reader. She also, though less intensely, includes chapters devoted to the perfumery industry and the development of `nose'. Nor does Birnbaum shy away from the links between desire, sensuality and aroma, (something Denyse Beaulieu certainly is not reticent about either!) but Birnbaum somehow engages the reader to explore their own relationship between the odour of their lover's skin and eroticism, and the role of scent in cementing relationship, whereas here, I was just left as a rather unwilling voyeur to Beaulieu's wild nights.

It's a major problem with a genre of factual writing, where the writer becomes as much the subject of the book as its stated subject matter: the reader and the writer really have to gel. Unfortunately for me, in this case, we didn't.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite, 20 Mar. 2012
This review is from: The Perfume Lover (Hardcover)
There's the skeleton of a decent book buried in here, but because Denyse Beaulieu splinters her narrative focus between perfume history buff, obsessed perfume fan and self-proclaimed perfume madame, reading "The Perfume Lover" is an exercise in frustration instead of a pleasure.

And like other reviewers have mentioned, there's a lot of "I'm doing my sexy bit now" scattered throughout -- but it's an oddly dated and contrived sexy bit. Personal anecdotes of flirtations and affairs with non-famous men seem intended as daring and salacious, but are weak sauce for today's audience, as if Ms. Beaulieu has never read a single contemporary biography or memoir, or watched even one episode of Reality TV before setting out to write a memoir herself.

There are some nice passages about perfume through the ages, discussions of perfume as an art form, and some interesting points about synthetic perfume materials and the rise of fragrance blogging, but celebrity perfumes? Hardly a word, except to say that it's not a French phenomenon, so who cares. The new and growing influence of Chinese, Brazilian and Middle Eastern perfume consumers? Barely mentioned -- maybe because they're not European. The artisan, independent and natural perfume movement? Since it hasn't yet caught on in Paris, it may as well not exist.

While the author exhibits an engaging passion for the history of her subject matter, it's this near thorough lack of 21st century global awareness that undercuts the book's relevance, making it seem already outdated when it's only just been published.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly the smell of success., 18 Mar. 2012
By 
Flickering Ember "I need a break and I wanna ... (Once Upon A Long Ago.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Perfume Lover (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I absolutely love perfume, which is why I thought I'd enjoy this book. I'd love to learn more about the processes involved in creating a new fragrance. To be fair, there is a reasonable amount of information on all things olfactory, but then the book is overtaken by the "Personal story" promised in the title. For me, this was a bit too much, and didn't strike enough of a balance between what seemed to me to be a bit too much of an ego-trip for the author, and general information about how perfume is made, which was all I was really interested in.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The smell of purple prose., 5 May 2012
By 
J. Charlesworth (Lewes, E. Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Perfume Lover (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
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. I suppose I should have guessed from the title, but for me this was too lightweight and overwritten, it was a bit of a souffle of a book. Like some other reviewers, I felt this left me disappointed in its lack of actual information about the undoubtedly fascinating processes of perfumery.
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