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The Perfume Lover: A Personal History of…

The Perfume Lover: A Personal History of Scent

by Denyse Beaulieu

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The Perfume Love by Denyse Beaulieu is an interesting look into the life of a woman and the birth of a perfume. Denyse's father didn't allow perfume in the house when she was a child and because of or in spite of that Denyse was and still is fascinated by scent and the art of creating it. The Perfume Lover is the story of how a memory of a night in Seville became a perfume. Denyse works with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour to create the scent that represents her memory of the night she spent in Seville during Holy Week. We learn a little about Denyse and her life and a little about the complicated art of creating a perfume. She has the scent memory of the night and Bertrand has the skill to make that scent come to life. It takes more than a year but in the end Denyse and Bertrand are both satisfied with what they created and have found a perfume house to sell it. Denyse says of the world of perfume "The more I learn, the stranger and more magical it gets."

June 2013 ( )
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
Oh dear. I recently read two perfume-based "memoirs" by two different women, this and Coming to my Senses by Alyssa Harad. Of the two, I'd definitely recommend this one, but it's still a mixed bag and not for everyone.

Beaulieu is a blogger about perfume, believe it or not, and she's very good at that. She is based in Paris but was raised in Montreal. So part of the book is a brief course on the perfume industry, historically and now. That part was probably my favorite. There's nothing new, but she's very knowledgeable and a snappy writer. The second part of the book -- its hook -- tells the story of the development of a new perfume by a renowned independent perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour, with the aid and sometimes interference of Beaulieu, who is desperate to see herself in a self-appointed role as the forthcoming perfume's "muse." That segues into the book's third part, in which Beaulieu interweaves her concept of the perfume with episodes from her romantic and erotic life through the years. Most people have trouble with that part, and indeed it's not the best, though hardly anything that will have you fanning yourself in embarrassment or delight.

Though Beaulieu obscures her age, she appears to have come of age in a repressed Montreal household in the 1960s or even 1950s, and to be on the far side of 50 as she writes this book in 2012. Her age is important, as well as her background, because above all, for me, the book portrays a woman who has scrabbled together a romantic but precarious life in the arts over the years, and finds herself over 50, a time when her superficial attractions may be fading and she must wonder about the future a little. She is flirty and fun, but she needs attention and reassurance. Much of the time the books feels like you've taken her out for drinks and she's regaling you with tales of her youth. But I liked her for who she was and had no problem indulging an occasional neediness and self-regard. Those parts actually have a poignant tint, for me. Finally, as I read between the lines, the book also lends a peek at the rather gallant and generous attitude of French men toward women like Beaulieu. Duchaufour, for example, comes across as exceedingly kind and patient. It was an unexpected lesson.

In sum, though the book is a bit of a Mulligan stew, and though it may suffer a bit from oversharing, I liked it and I would recommend it to perfume fans who don't mind a little extraneous puffery. ( )
  Laura400 | Mar 18, 2014 |
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I am sitting in the perfumer's lab, taking delicate cat-like sniffs of a slender blotting-paper strip dipped in orange blossom absolute.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0007411820, Hardcover)

'Why couldn't I be a perfumer's muse? I've come such a long way in the realm of scent. In fact, I was never really meant to poke my nose into it ...' The Perfume Lover by Denyse Beaulieu is an intimate journey into the mystery of scent. What if the most beautiful night in your life inspired a fragrance? Denyse Beaulieu is a respected fragrance writer; it is her world, her love, her life. When she was growing up, perfume was forbidden in her house, spurring a childhood curiosity that went on to become an intellectual and sensual passion. It is this passion she pursued all the way to Paris, where she now lives, and entered the secretive world of the perfume industry. But little did she know that it would lead her to achieve a fragrance lover's wildest dream ...When Denyse tells a famous perfumer of a sensual night spent in Seville under an orange tree in full blossom, wrapped in the arms of a beautiful young man, the story stirs his imagination and together they create a scent that captures the essence of that night. This is the story of that perfume. As the unique creative collaboration unfolds, the perfume-in-progress conjures intimate memories, leading Beaulieu to make sense of her life through scents. Throughout, she weaves the evocative history of perfumery into her personal journey, in an intensely passionate voice: the masters and the masterpieces; the myths and the myth-busting, down to the molecular mysteries that weld our flesh to flowers...The Perfume Lover is an unprecedented account of the creative process that goes into composing a fragrance, and a uniquely candid insider's view into the world and history of fragrance. Your world will never smell the same.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:27 -0400)

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Blends personal narrative, essays, and meetings with prominent figures of the operfume industry to attempt to understand the infludence fragrance can have on our life story.

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