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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
The Perfume Garden
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 22 May 2017
I found it well written and very descriptive The history of the Spanish civil war included in the book was clearly well researched but it had a softer gentler side and you could really warm to the characters. The only reason why I didn't give it a 5 star rating was I found the ending a little to over the top for me.
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on 20 February 2013
Others have summarised the story so I won't repeat that. This is a back-and-forth story - Spanish Civil War and 2001-2002. I had no trouble following where I was as each set of characters are strong and distinctive. Great story, loved this book. I am mean with my 5 stars but Kate Lord Brown deserves one for this book.
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on 11 January 2014
I have given this book 5 stars as I enjoyed it and didn't want it to end. The Spanish Civil war is not a period of history that I know much about, so I cannot comment on the authenticity of the material in the book, but I found it very moving and it left me wanting to find out more. I will certainly look out for more books by this author.
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on 23 September 2015
A good read. Enjoyed it a lot. Story kept you interested until the end.
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on 10 November 2013
I found the back drop of Spain exhilarating. A really good story which kept me hooked. The characters are strong and provocative.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 July 2013
If you love Spain and all things Spanish, then this is definitely a novel for you! We were enchanted by the style that pulls the reader in and the wonderful evocations of Valencia both during and post Spanish Civil War and in the modern day.

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.
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on 19 March 2017
Enjoyed this quite a bit. Would read more by this author.
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on 11 January 2014
Set in Spain during the civil war of the 1930's, The Perfume Garden travels between Valencia then and now. Perfumier Emma decides to leave her home in London after her divorce and settle in a house in Valencia owned by her late mother. There, she meets Luca and unravels details of the houses past occupants and ties with her family members.

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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on 27 June 2013
When Emma's mum, Liberty, dies, she leaves a series of letters to her daughter, and a key to a crumbled villa in Spain. Leaving her job as a leading perfumier in London, Emma leaves and heads to sunny Spain. Heavy with grief after losing not only her mother but her ex-partner and father to her unborn baby, Joe, it's a balm for Emma's soul. For her, it's a place she can retreat and refocus. But for her grandmother, Freya, it serves only as a horrible reminder of her time in Spain during the civil war - a place and time she never wants to revisit.

What I loved about this, was the almost heady sense of description. Right from the very first page, the scene was set so perfectly, I was instantly transported to 1930's Spain and having a main character whose job is to create sublime scents only added to its allure. In fact, it was so good that I wondered rather sceptically about whether it would be sustained throughout the book. I'm pleased to say it was.

The story follows two timelines. One modern day, where we meet Emma in September 2011, and the other during the Spanish civil war. The dual timelines worked well with the heavy descriptions to keep the story fresh but I did feel that sometimes the chapters were a little too short. While the constant switching served as a great pacemaker in the lead up to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 for example, there were other times when I wanted to stay in one place just a little longer.

Because of this, I found it difficult to connect with any one character, and there were quite a few. I admit to being confused for the first few chapters about who was who, which wasn't helped at times by the dual timelines. That being said, once I got into the rhythm of the pace and set up, they began to stick. Every character was different and believeable, and Freya, in particular turned out to be the one I liked the most. The addition of Liberty's letters was a nice touch, and turned her into an actual character, despite her being dead from the outset.

Because of the sometimes confusing timelines and characters, The Perfume Garden isn't a book I flew through quickly, but then, I didn't really want to. If I had it my way, I'd have read it by a pool somewhere hot, because it's stories like these that I like to luxuriate over. If you're a fan of books by authors like Kate Mosse and Kate Furnivall, you'll love this.
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VINE VOICEon 20 May 2013
Emma Temple is coming to terms with the fact that she is expecting a baby with her long-time love Joe, yet they are no longer together. Joe has been having an affair with Delilah, a friend from his past who is also the third partner in the highly successful perfumery business they all run together, which was established by Emma's beloved late mother, Liberty Temple. Emma is introduced to us in autumn of 2001, alongside her close relatives; Grandmother Freya and her Great-Uncle Charles. Emma is trying to accept that things seem to be over with Joe, yet she must tell him about the baby. He is away on business in New York with Delilah. In another strand to the narrative, it is 1936 and Charles, along with his friend Hugo, has arrived in Spain leaving behind their studies in Cambridge to photograph, report on and support the struggles of the International Brigades in Spain, fighting Franco's forces in the bitter civil war. We are also introduced to a young Spanish couple, Jordi and Rosa, and to a certain photographer by the name of Robert Capa.

I am always interested in fiction that deals with the Spanish Civil War, and soon after starting to read, I found myself getting carried off into this story, first entranced by the young photographer capturing a famous image of a falling soldier, then swept into the passion and pain of the struggle of the people supporting what they believed in and fighting as their country was torn apart. The young English nurse, facing the terrible tragedies playing out every day, in such close proximity to death, and her brother, capturing the images of war.

The modern day story involving Emma parallels the historical narrative; it is one of pain and loss, too, and of her trying to find a way forward and a new start. As Emma takes steps towards a new future for herself, heading to Valencia with the key that was left to her amongst her mothers letters, she finds an old, neglected villa, and a new freedom in her life, breaking out of the recent difficult times: 'In Spain, Emma felt like she was coming out of hibernation.' At the same time she opens up the door to the past within her family, uncovering secrets from the time her grandmother Freya spent in Spain during the civil war as a nurse. For Freya, and for her brother Charles, the painful memories from their days spent in Spain are difficult to deal with to this day, and as Emma learns more about Freya's past, she begins to understand why.

I found the storyline gripping, with short chapters taking us back and forth in time from Emma's days in modern-day Spain to the depths of the tragic civil war. I was easily tempted to read just one more chapter to discover what had happened in the other strand of the story and I was absorbed by this depiction of a family who, through the generations, had found and lost love.

The descriptions of Spain, the sights and sounds, the people and traditions, are very evocative and vivid, enabling me to picture the scenes, to imagine the aromas. I feel that Kate Lord Brown writes with an evident passion about her subjects here, and this enthusiasm and convincing depiction of events drew me further into the lives of the characters and their stories, and I cared about them and their romantic relationships and friendships.

This is a beautiful novel about love and separation, war and idealism, secrets and memories, about the terrible tragedies of wartime that leave mental scars and the hope and optimism that a new start and a new home can bring. Fragrance is a key theme in the story, the idea of it evoking memories. The storytelling in this novel has been compared to that of Kate Morton and I feel that this is an accurate comparison; a dual time frame story that is handled well, with themes of love, family history and secrets; this all combines to make The Perfume Garden a very involving, vivid, romantic and moving read to lose yourself in.

4.5 stars
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