Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A missive from the sensual world, 4 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur (Hardcover)
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Essentially this is the professional diary/notepad of the head parfumeur of Hermes; it gives an insight into his daily meetings and resopnsibilities; the precise way that he approaches his work; but it's also a sensuous experience in many ways - when he talks of aromas and scents, his precise language reveals moments of beauty.

His words can be interpreted as light and whimsical, but each diary entry contains a moment of insight. The French language is perfect for conveying these things - the original version would be a pleasure to read, but the translator appears to have captured the essential character of the writer really well.

Overall, reading this felt very 'Zen': I've read Zen tales about a monk realising how lovely a strawberry is (to precis rather horribly), and these entries remind me of this at times. There is an interesting duality between the author as a controlled and efficient professional, and his romantic expansiveness when talking about his passion. The 'Summary of Smells' at the back is invaluable for any perfume makers out there, but I suspect that it's not entirely comprehensive.

I can't help feeling that if this book had originated in the UK, it would have been a coffee table hardback with big glossy pictures of figs, cinnamon and vanilla every other page, to fill the space up. Instead we get no illustrations, just blank, clean empty spaces - sometimes there is little more than a sentence on a page - and the book is a small hardback. Typically for the sentiments expressed on the pages, they feel wonderful to the touch - very smooth, and the dust jacket has a very tactile quality to it, too. That they have chosen this way of doing things is consistent with the author's approach to creating perfume: use only the best ingredients, use them sparingly, and keep things simple. The author preaches a minimalist creed - that no more than seven scents should be used, 'to keep the nose active' - and this book gets that same message across very well.

This book says things quietly - among those things is that there is beauty everywhere; even in the mundane. It is up to the reader to listen carefully if they want to appreciate what it has to say.
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