Exclusive interview with author M.J. Rose and a review of her new book in a series about reincarnation *** 3 Stars
By Gabrielle Pantera
“I was reading about Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt, who lived from 69 BCE to 30BCE,” says The Book of Lost Fragrances author M.J. Rose. “She was fascinated with, and some say obsessed by, scent. Marc Anthony built her a fragrance factory where he planted now extinct flora and fauna including groves of balsam trees, important in the creation of perfume at the time, confiscated from Herod.”
Cleopatra kept a recipe book for her perfumes, entitled Cleopatra gynaeciarum libri. “The book has been described in writings by historians Dioscorides, Homer and Pliny the Elder,” says Rose. “No known copy of the book exists today. When I read about that book, I knew I truly had the idea for a new novel.”
The Book of Lost Fragrances contains descriptions that are vivid and suspenseful. There are religious elements and the reader travels with the characters to New York to China, London and Paris. Many facts about fragrances and the role it’s played throughout history are revealed. However, the head-hoping and can be confusing and the flashbacks can throw you out of the story.
In The Book of Lost Fragrances, a child Jac L’Etoile is haunted by visions so real that she thought she may go crazy. Doctors help Jac overcome the visions and she finds her calling: to study children who have exhibited past-life experiences. Jac is fascinated by them, but doesn’t think her visions as a child were memories of a previous life. She’s turned her back on her families business. For centuries her family has been perfumers. Her brother Robbie uncovers shards of an ancient Egyptian scent pot. Robbie believes the family legend that the E’Toile’s family at one time possessed a scent that could help soul mates find each other and trigger past life memories.
When Robbie disappears, Jac discovers that others want this scent. Jac turns to her ex-lover Griffin, her brother’s best friend. As Jac and Griffin search for clues, Jac’s emotions and visions reemerge.
To keep in the world of scent while writing, Rose burned a lot of scented candles while working. “When I was finished writing, I searched out the perfumer who’d created the candles that had inspired me the most, Frederick Bouchardy of Joya Studios. I asked if he’d like a copy of the manuscript. He said he’d be delighted. After he read the novel he contacted me and we met for tea in the Peninsula Hotel in NYC. He told me he loved the book and wanted to create his version of the fragrance at the heart of the novel. I was so astonished and honored, I actually started to cry.”
Bouchardy named the fragrance after a scent in the book: Âmes Sœurs, the scent of soulmates. It has hints of frankincense, myrrh, orange blossom and jasmine. “It has a smoky, uncommon finish that suggests the past and the future…and lost souls reunited,” says Rose.
Rose has written twelve novels and two books on marketing, plus hundreds of articles. Her novels are all listed at her website. My firs novel, Lip Service, was published in 1999. She’s currently writing a novel that features the same main character who’s in The Book of Lost Fragrances, Jac L’Etoile.
M.J. Rose is based in Greenwich , Connecticut. She was born in New York City.
The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose
Hardcover: 384 pages, Publisher: Atria Books (March 13, 2012), Language: English
ISBN: 9781451621303 $ 24.00