Publisher's synopsis: At 36 - earnest, bookish, terminally shopping averse - Alyssa Harad thinks she knows herself. Then one day she stumbles onto a perfume review blog and, surprised by her seduction by such a girly extravagance, she reads in secret. ...
Thus begins a life-changing journey that takes Harad from a private perfume laboratory in Austin, Texas, to the glamorous fragrance showrooms of New York City. With warmth and humor, Harad traces the way her unexpected passion helps her open new frontiers and reclaim traditions she had rejected. Full of lush description, this intimate memoir celebrates the many ways there are to come to our senses.
My take: This was an unlikely book to cross my desk. My perfume credentials began with a childhood bottle of Evening in Paris and topped out at Jean Nate. So to be attracted to a book on perfume was a reach. But she had me at the first page, and I hope the perfume world is glad she discovered them. Alyssa, with her English degrees, enables readers to reach out and grasp the beauty of the perfume world. A wonderful narrator, she opens the reader's senses to the world of fragrance.
I learned that Joy was, at its launch, the world's costliest perfume ever made; that rose and jasmine are known as the queen and king of perfume essences; that perfume scents have a head, heart and a base; and that Coty produced the first mass-market perfumes. Through the pages, I shadowed her to perfume sniffing salons, visited stores I've still only read about to sample particular perfumes and observed her find long-hidden facets of her personality - what she'd call the girly part.
This was a delightful book. I really enjoyed it and believe you will, too.
FYI: On Sunday, March 17, Idaho PBS will air, "Power of Scent," a documentary-style pledge special through the unseen, surprising and widely underestimated world of our most powerful sense - smell - on which Alyssa will be guest.
My rating: 5 out of 5.