It’s been a few weeks since I read it, but I do remember really enjoying reading this book. It went in to the processes of how scent can be extracted from raw materials and it was done very skilfully. A lot of learning happens because of the requirement of the intriguing plot. You could read a manual or a dry factual textbook on how essential oils and perfumes are made or you could read this. Admittedly as it is set some 100 years ago, the processes described may be a little outdated and newer techniques do exist for fragrance extraction and perfume creation but I learnt things which surprised me for example I was very surprised by how much animal fat was needed to extract fragrance from flowers and I’m very reassured that that is probably not the case now.
The book summarises the processes of extracting fragrance from a range of different sources, it even answered quite logically how one would extract scent from a living animal and I remember reading the blurb and being quite sceptical that it would. It also explains why fragrance normally contains a blend of several ingredients even when it is purely one fragrance you want to smell.
What I found interesting was that normally in books, descriptive’s revolve around imagery or sounds. It was very fitting that in this book things are described via its scents, whether good or bad. It contributed to me really becoming aware of my own environment in an olfactory sense whilst I was reading it.
This book was a really good blend of dark atmospheric psychological thriller and being genuinely informative on the processes of perfume making. It’s very richly described and well written and transports you slowly but surely to another place. I was marginally sceptical about the ending though, but only marginally, the build up being so convincing.
It is all in all a really good read. And an even better read if you’re a perfume fan.