Author: Maggie Alderson
Maggie Alderson is an author whose work I was unfamiliar with but I’m generally pretty open to new reading experiences. The synopsis for this one sounded interesting and at the time it came up as a book club option I was reading about the building of a lipstick empire so the idea of reading a novel based around perfume was intriguing.
I have had a pretty big couple of weeks and I started this book on my way to the airport to pick up my little sister and littlest nephew, so with extra people in the house and spending family time there wasn’t a lot of reading time. I was reading in fits and starts and small bursts but I just couldn’t seem to immerse myself, a week in and I was still only at about 100 pages.
Polly is quite happy with her life; she is happily married with 2 children off at uni, a successful perfume blog and a home yoga studio she teaches in. A week before Christmas her husband disappears claiming to need some space and everything changes.
The story is told through dated chapters that take us through events as they happen with Polly and blog posts, complete with comments.
Happily married for twenty-four years Polly is blown away by the sudden departure of her husband, with no means of contacting him and no real understanding of what’s happening. Learning to navigate through these changes Polly makes some new friends and adjusts her life.
Perfume is heavily featured throughout the story, there is a lot of history which is quite interesting and an analysis of what seems like every scent Polly comes across. My sense of smell is not well developed and I’m hopeless at deconstructing what I can smell so at times this aspect of the book did go right over my head. I can’t differentiate between top notes, base notes or anything in between; perfume is perfume and I like it or I don’t. The in-depth detail of all things nose related did get a little tedious for me but the big picture storyline made up for it.
The blog posts were interesting in that they took an aspect of life and broke it down into scent associations and then offered perfumes that related, this is how Polly experiences her life.
Polly is stuck in a situation she has no control over, Dave has asked that she not try to contact him and she doesn’t speak to anyone about what’s going on. Apart from the fact that this is a ridiculously unfair situation to be put in, it makes it difficult for Polly to spend time with her friends.
Navigating this strange new reality sees Polly making new friends; friends she doesn’t need to explain the absence of her husband to. Time passes and Polly finds herself slowly creating a new life with the friends she has made along the way, and an old flame she hasn’t seen since her university days.
Polly’s children may be grown and off at university but this situation is still enough to throw them off kilter. It’s one thing for your parents to split up, as a child or an adult, but in this case the not knowing what’s actually going on makes it much harder to deal with. The fact that their father is not in touch with them either makes things especially difficult.
The cast is an interesting mix of characters; Polly is quite conservative and quiet, she keeps to herself a lot though has shared quite a bit of her life with the world on her blog. She is keeping her current situation quiet but a lot of personal information is readily available online about her life and her family. This makes the contrast between herself and her new friends even more noticeable. Shirlee is one of her yoga students, a lovely lady who is loud and seems unable to understand boundaries. Guy is a new perfumer who is very secretive about his personal life and past but also wildly talented, if far from subtle. Edward ‘Chum’ Cliddington, her old friend from uni is a refreshing blast from the past who offers an escape from current reality with conversation about the old days, someone whose life may or may not be as complicated as Polly’s if they ever talked about it.
The Scent of You is a story of finding yourself when all you thought you had is turned on it’s head. I enjoyed the story once I got involved but I still found it very drawn out. I think lovers of the heady world of perfume will enjoy all of the background info and history. I felt for Polly through most of the story but there were times that I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking.
The characters were vivid and the storyline interesting though I found that everything scent related was explored in great depth and some of the elements of the story seemed a little more glossed over.
Thanks to Harper Collins 25 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading The Scent of You so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I look forward to finding out what our readers thought.