The Perfume Garden

Written by Kate Lord Brown
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

Fluctuating between the Spanish Civil War and the present day, this book tells the story of three generations of a family torn apart by war. It begins in 1936 with thousands of young men flocking to Spain to support the International Brigades in their fight against fascism, including two young students from Cambridge. War photography is in its infancy, and Charles, a student of lepidoptery, decides to suspend his studies and join the fight as a war photographer. His fellow student, Hugo, goes with him. Charles’ sister, Freya, a nurse, also heads for Spain to help the women, children and the inevitable wounded. Back in the 21st century, Emma has inherited a bundle of letters and the key to a house in Valencia from her mother. A leading perfumer, she decides to give up her business and restore the dilapidated house with its perfume garden.

I found this a fascinating story. The characters who criss-cross over years are well drawn and wholly believable. The story has pace, and despite the changing of the era in alternate chapters, it becomes more and more intriguing right through to the final dramatic chapter. I would recommend this book.