Grace Monroe is newly married and doesn’t feel at home in her husband’s social circles. It is London in the 1950’s, and there are certain expectations of Grace that she’s not sure she can live up to, with things becoming even more complicated when she suspects her husband of having an affair. So when she receives an inheritance from Eva D’Orsey, a woman she’s never even heard of, let alone met, she jumps at the opportunity to travel to Paris to learn about her mysterious benefactor. As the reader learns more about Eva, so too does Grace, and this journey that she’s on to discover more about this inheritance will change who Grace is as a person in fundamental ways.
I am a major sucker for both women’s fiction and stories with dual narratives, so The Perfume Collector was right up my alley. I actually hadn’t heard of this novel before it was chosen for the She Reads book this month, but once again I have to say thank goodness for She Reads! I really enjoyed this novel and I’m happy I was given the opportunity to discover it.
I liked Grace quite a bit and was intrigued by her story. I was happy for her that she was going out on her own to find out about Eva, she was being adventurous and I was so hoping for her to get to know Eva through the stories of the people she met on her journey. I appreciated the fact that she was unwilling to accept her husband’s bad behavior, especially given the time period the book was set in – I’m pretty sure it was not as socially acceptable in the 1950’s to leave your husband because of infidelity as it is today.
If I liked Grace, though, I LOVED Eva. Her life was incredibly fascinating and I was captivated by her story. The things she experienced, the people she knew, the adventures she had – I was swept up in all of it and I couldn’t wait to learn more about her as I turned the pages. Grace’s story was interesting, yes, but it was Eva’s that kept me coming back for me, that kept me racing through the book. I loved Eva, I admired her, I wanted to get to know her in the present day.
Admittedly, the connection between the two women was pretty obvious to me from very early on, but that didn’t take away too much for me. Personally, The Perfume Collector was more about the journey than the destination, and while I had a pretty good idea of where the story would end up, getting there was totally fun and worth the fact that I wasn’t too surprised by the ending.
I really liked this one! I will definitely be looking forward to reading more by Kathleen Tessaro in the future.