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The Perfume Garden Paperback – 1 Jun 2012
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Brown s pacing is exquisite, revealing each twist slowly and deliberately, leaving you gripped to the end. --We Love This Book (The Bookseller)
If I could have given this book 11/10 I would have done so. --Novelicious
Sweepingly romantic … heartbreaking at times; a vivid, gripping read
Katherine Webb, author of The Legacy --Katherine Webb, author of The Legacy
The Perfume Garden combines the gripping storytelling of Kate Morton with the evocative settings of Victoria Hislop to tell this sumptuous, escapist story of lost love and family secrets set between modern day Valencia and the Spanish Civil War.See all Product description
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Emma has just lost her Mother, Liberty, the founder of Liberty Temple perfumes. Emma has taken over the enterprise with now ex Joe, who has been ensnared by the third business partner Lila. A novel with depth, that explores relationships, life and family both present day and issues of legacy from past generations. It also brings the horrors of the Spanish Civil War to life. The chapters alternate between The Civil War Years and the early 2000s as Emma abandons her life as a perfumer, and settles in Valencia to search out her roots and her history.
Valencia is the "land of flowers, light and love" which is a perfect backdrop for a character like Emma to explore her story. The novel is very sensory, you can feel the flowery notes as she dabbles and combines natural fragrances... neroli.... orange blossom.. and more....
If you know the city well, this novel will transport you right back there, as the plot moves from Emma's newly restored finca, to the Torres de Quart or across the Plaza Mayor or the Plaza del Ayuntamento. Enjoy a chocolate con churros, roscón de reyes cake or let your taste buds savour the full flavours of paella as the characters enjoy the cripsy layer of socarrat at the bottom of the pan; perhaps go on to enjoy a natillas pudding.
The ending was perhaps the weakest part of the novel - a fireworks ending that somehow jarred with the thoughtful writing in the rest of the book.
This book took a little while to get into and I couldn't quite grasp who was who during the beginning, so the first chapter or two dragged a bit for me, but after learning more about the characters and their part in the story, it became quite involving. As Gerda and Capa were real people and events true to life, their story took on special significance.
I knew virtually nothing about the Spanish Civil War, let alone the fact that people from other countries were willing to give their lives to save Spain from the Nationalists, so for this reason, and Kate Lord Brown's excellent and vivid depictions of the war and its consequences, I bumped my rating up a star. However, I then decreased it again for the ending of the book, which seemed to have no real relevance to the rest of the story and felt like it belonged in a crime novel.
The Perfume Garden didn't quite reach Victoria Hislop's level of superb characters and scenes for me, but was enjoyable nonetheless, and I'll certainly be keen to read Kate Lord Browns future work.
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