Description: The quest for a stolen perfume formula awakens passion, rivalry and family secrets in the fragrant flower fields of the South of France… Perfumer Zoe Flore travels to Grasse, perfume capital of the world, to collect a formula: her inheritance from the family she never knew existed. The scent matches the one worn by her mother, who passed away when Zoe was a teenager. Zoe, competing to create a new fragrance for a prestigious designer, believes this scent could win the contract—and lead her to the reason her mother fled Grasse for New York City. Before Zoe can discover the truth, the formula is stolen. And she’s not the only one looking for it. So is Loulou, her rebellious teenage cousin; Philippe, her alluring competitor for the fragrance contract; and a third person who never wanted the formula to slip into the public in the first place. The pursuit transforms into a journey of self-discovery as each struggles to understand the complexities of love, the force of pride and the meaning of family.
“A Perfumer’s Secret” by Adria Cimino is a coming-of-age novel about young professional Zoe Flore who is forced to face her past and a family she never knew existed. Summoned to a small town in southern France for an inheritance from a family member Zoe had never heard of, she embarks on a journey to figure out who her parents were and why her mother never told her about where she came from.
Adria Cimino does a good job depicting the details of a professional perfumer’s life, making the lifestyle come to life in a realistic way, while balancing the intricacies of a competitive family unearthing long-kept secrets. While somewhat predictable, the story was entertaining and an interesting look at the life of a perfumer. Being a perfumer isn’t an occupation that is widely discussed or known about so this was a very fascinating look behind-the-scenes of a profession generally overlooked.
The protagonist, Zoe, is outwardly confident attempting to hide her insecurities and remain removed from her emotions. She was a well-developed character, but her solitude seemed forced and her stoic façade slipped too easily to be realistic. Teaming up with 16 year old Loulou Sanford, who helps Zoe rummage through the family past, added a layer to the family history and story line. Loulou was a fairly likeable and independent character when on her own or with Zoe, but altogether immature, ridiculously childish and downright bratty when dealing with her parents which took away from rooting for her.
“A Perfumer’s Secret” did a great job of exploring what it’s like to be a perfumer and come from a family all in the same profession. I’m a big fan of novels that take place in small French towns, but this one also gave cause to look up the perfume industry and see how it really works. Although slightly predictable, “A Perfumer’s Secret” is a fun, easy read – a perfect addition to the summer beach bag!