From the iris fields of Tuscany to the vetivert distilleries of India, from the nutmeg plantations of Sri Lanka to the shores of the Arabian Sea, Celia gives readers a glimpse into the world of scent that few people have ever experienced, providing delicious details on its place in history?for example, how Casanova added small amounts of ambergris to chocolate mousses to aid his amorous adventures, and how Charles Dickens carried a monogrammed pocket nutmeg grater in his waist coat at a time when nutmeg was used to ward off evil and to spice rum.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 46.
- Review Date: 2008-12-15
- Reviewer: Staff
For globe-trotting British journalist Lyttelton, “scent evokes memories.” Such memories from her childhood, when she traveled with her archeologist mother to distant countries, led her to embark on a quest to find scent origins around the world. Seeking her own “bespoke” perfume, she visits a London perfumer, introducing readers to the delicate art of composing a perfume, evoking, for instance, “a forest at dawn soaked in dew” or, more abstractly, a piece of music. With her own formula in hand, Lyttelton sets out to visit places where the ingredients are grown, hoping to meet the harvesters, encounter fragrant fumes and discover the secrets of perfume making. Lyttelton has a magical manner of blending words and sentences to summon up splendiferous odors amid her anecdotes, memories and historical research. Scented sentences permeate the pages as she takes the reader along on her “olfactory odyssey” across far-flung, labyrinthine landscapes, from the French Riviera and Morocco to Tuscany and Sri Lanka. Her enchanting escapades conclude with a glossary of terminology used by perfumers. (Feb. 3)