The Book of Lost Fragrances

Written by M.J. Rose
Review by Susan Zabolotny

Jac L’Etoile and her brother, Robbie, are heirs to the House of L’Etoile, a famous perfumery that has been a part of their family since 1799. Their father, suffering from dementia, has been sent to a nursing home, and Robbie is desperate to save the financially troubled company. Jac insists that the business be sold, but Robbie continues working on perfumes that might save them.

While straightening his father’s shop, he discovers shards of pottery in the bottom of a box and asks his friend, Griffin, to piece them back together and translate the hieroglyphics written on the sides. More significant is the remnant of a perfume clinging to the pieces, and Robbie believes it may be the long-sought-after key to discovering past lives through scent. Jac has the most sensitive nose in the family, but she refuses to be a part of this discovery. Griffin and Jac were once lovers and parted on a bitter note, but they join forces when Robbie disappears and a dead body is left behind in the House of L’Etoile. The search for Robbie takes them into the catacombs that run for miles beneath the streets of Paris and reawakens a love that is now forbidden, since Griffin is married and has a child.

There are several characters in this story, all seeking to find this ancient and valuable perfume. Robbie feels the Tibetans are most deserving, while the Chinese Mafia in Paris is working hard to stop him. Dr. Malachi, director of the Phoenix Institute for the study of reincarnation, has offered Robbie more than enough money to save their perfumery in exchange for the perfume. The outcome is so worth the wait. M.J. Rose spent over two and a half years traveling and researching this contemporary novel with flashbacks to ancient Egypt. I highly recommend this book.