The Book of Lost Fragrances by M. J. Rose is fourth book in the fictional Reincarnationist series. However, each entry can be read as a standalone book.
After her mother’s suicide, French woman Jac L’Etoile moves to the United States. Jac, an heir to the famous L’Etoile perfume company now at the hands of her brother Robbie, is haunted by past memories.
Suddenly Robbie goes missing after hinting at her great discovery which has something to do with the lost perfume factory of Cleopatra. Jac has to get back into the world she left behind in order to help her brother and save her family’s company.
I have read the previous three books in M.J. Rose’s Reincarnationist series but I have to say that I enjoyed The Book of Lost Fragrances the most. While many people may not read fiction — and I was one of those — I changed my mind with the condition that I’ll learn “something” from the book. That something could be about history, the human condition, or anything else. I especially appreciate the Author’s Note at the end of such books which tells me what is real and what isn’t. Actually, if there isn’t an Author’s Note I might not even bother reading it.
The Reincarnationist series deals with certain objects which help people remember past lives. There is a society for such objects, villains trying to get their hands on them and heroes who save the day. But the books also talk about history, certain beliefs about reincarnation, and the cultural implications of such beliefs.
What’s different about The Book of Lost Fragrances is that there is no mysterious/magical object, but a certain smell, concocted by the ancient Egyptians which brings one back vivid memories of past lives. For me, smells certainly bring up memories probably more than anything else. Sometimes I dream and when I wake up I can actually smell what I dreamt about (a perfume, flowers, the dessert, etc.), so this novel was, to me, more believable than the first three.
The characters in this book are written very well, but much like the other books I didn’t form any special attachment to any of them. The narrative builds up slowly, but keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next. As is in the rest of the series, the storytelling style is jumping from character to character and in time and space.
While I still haven’t made up my mind about reincarnation (it sure would be nice to be reincarnated but as a person who sees the world in 0s and 1s it’s difficult to comprehend), I do like the premise of the series and, if anything, could certainly believe that a fragrance would do the trick of resurrecting suppressed memories.
- 384 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books (March 13, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451621302