Review: The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert

Review: The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert

The Perfume Thief – Timothy Schaffert (Knopf Doubleday, $35.00)
Reviewed by Louise Ward, Wardini Books

Paris during the war – most of us have read many a novel in this genre, but the intrigue, danger and conspiracy stoppered within The Perfume Thief is diffused through scent, giving it a different nose altogether.

Clementine is a parfumier living in a rambling old house in occupied Paris in which she harbours lost boy Blue and any number of abused and endangered girls from the local Cabaret (brothel), Madame Boulette’s, who will be rounded up and arrested unless they can escape.

Her dear friend Day, a singer hiding her mixed heritage from the Nazi punters crawling all over the Cabaret, introduces her to Zoe St Angel, a songbird kept caged by a Nazi officer. Zoe has a secret all of her own that will set 72-year-old Clem, former thief extraordinaire, on a quest to find a perfume recipe book that could be the saving or the downfall of them all.

The scents in the story are phenomenal. For any reader with the ability to conjure a whiff from words, this book is bliss. The notes found in perfumes and liquors, harvested from the most exotic of plants and insects, combine in the concoctions Clem creates to evoke memories and recreate moments in time. Clem, who has dressed after the male fashion for most of her life, seeks among other things, the formula to Gabrielle, a scent not so secretly synonymous with sapphism.

To find the perfume book, Clem must befriend Oskar Voss, a Nazi who wants the recipes for reasons of his own, and prizes Clem’s knowledge of Paris and of perfume. It’s occupied France in the World War II and Clem is a lesbian who dresses as a man hanging out with a Nazi keen to impress Hitler — the danger she is in is intense.

The sights, sounds and smells of Paris, and in particular the world of underground creatives pursuing their banned callings, are beautifully evoked in The Perfume Thief. It’s glamorous, intriguing (what does Hitler want with perfume?), dangerous and enlightening. Heady stuff.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Car rolls on SH1 near Paekākāriki in Wellington, injuries reported

A car has rolled on State Highway 1 in Wellington, blocking a southbound lane. Emergency services are at the scene of a crash on SH1, near Paekākāriki, police said at ... Read more »

Car rolls on SH1 near Paekākāriki, Wellington, injuries reported

A car has rolled on State Highway 1 in Wellington, blocking a southbound lane. Emergency services are at the scene of a crash on SH1, near Paekākāriki, police said at ... Read more »

Covid 19: Samoa to go into nationwide lockdown after Brisbane flight cases rise

Samoa will move into a nationwide lockdown from 6pm today. It comes after the number of confirmed Covid cases in quarantine off a flight from Brisbane on Wednesday increased from ... Read more »

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Locations of interest - Rotorua bar latest, Auckland locations grow

Health officials are asking people who visited a Rotorua bar this week to self-isolate and get tested immediately. Kasper’s Sports Bar has become the latest location of interest to be ... Read more »

Covid-19 coronavirus: NSW records 20,148 new cases, 30 deaths

New South Wales has recorded 20,148 new cases and 30 Covid deaths in the past 24 hours. There are now 2762 infected people in hospitals across the state, with 204 ... Read more »

'No manager wants d***heads!': David Moyes wants to model West Ham on New Zealand rugby team as he says he does not need to sign egotistical players to take Hammers to next level

David Moyes thinks the All Blacks' 'no d***heads' policy can apply to West Ham Moyes does think the team need to buy players with big egos to impress The manager said he has humble players and wants to maintain that profileMoyes said he had moved on from troubled time at Old Trafford before his return Read more »

Covid 19 Omicron: Government's red traffic light for outbreak not enough - Dr Siouxsie Wiles

By Craig McCulloch of RNZ Prominent microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles is “really worried” about the Government’s plan for an Omicron outbreak, warning the red traffic light setting will not be ... Read more »

Australian Open 2022: Novak Djokovic's coach slams treatment of star in Australia

Novak Djokovic’s coach has slammed the way the tennis star was treated, blasting the “unjust” decision to deport him from Australia. Djokovic was sent packing last Sunday after the Federal ... Read more »

Momo diplomacy: Nepali festival in Auckland to use dumplings to unite communities

Auckland’s Nepalese community want to use momos to break down barriers and build an affinity with other dumpling-loving communities. Its business community is organising the first “Dumpling and Music International ... Read more »

Gabby Petito death: Brian Laundrie's notebook reveals he claimed responsibility

Brian Laundrie’s notebook has revealed he took responsibility for Gabby Petito’s death, according to the FBI. In a statement released today, the agency said no one else was involved other ... Read more »

Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami: Shockwave recorded in Tauranga Harbour

Live monitoring sites picked up the exact time the shockwave from the Tongan eruption hit Tauranga Harbour. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council says monitoring sites also recorded evidence of ... Read more »

Brian Laundrie's notebook reveals he took responsibility for Gabby Petito's death

Brian Laundrie’s notebook has revealed he took responsibility for Gabby Petito’s death, according to the FBI. In a statement released on Friday, the agency said no one else was involved ... Read more »

Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra welcome first baby via surrogate

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas have welcomed their first child via a surrogate. The 39-year-old actress and Nick, 29 – who tied the knot in 2018 – have announced the ... Read more »

Khloe Kardashian feels 'crushed' after Tristan Thompson fathers child with another woman

Khloe Kardashian feels “crushed” after Tristan Thompson confessed to fathering a child with another woman. The 30-year-old basketball player – who has True, three, with the reality star – was ... Read more »

Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami: Nomuka family in New Zealand say home likely unliveable

By RNZ A family from Nomuka expect their home will be unliveable when they return from New Zealand. The Sheens have been in Northland for the past month, for temporary ... Read more »

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott wins X Games gold medal in historic fashion

Kiwi snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott has added another medal to her expansive collection, winning gold today at the prestigious, invite-only X Games women’s snowboard slopestyle in Aspen. Taking a convincing lead ... Read more »

Zoi Sadowski-Synott wins X Games gold medal in historic fashion

Kiwi snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott has added yet another medal to her expansive collection, winning gold today at the prestigious, invite only X Games women’s snowboard slopestyle in Aspen. Taking a ... Read more »

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Auckland locations of interest - Pukekohe cafe latest on list

A Pukekohe cafe is the latest location of interest to be added to the growing list. A Covid-19 case visited Rise n Shine Cafe, Paerata on Sunday between 11.15am and ... Read more »

'Squid Game' renewed for a second season

‘Squid Game’ has been renewed for a second season. The South Korean dystopian drama – which became streaming platform Netflix’s most popular series on launch after reaching 214 million households ... Read more »

Stabbing in Auckland CBD, victim in hospital with serious injuries

A person has been taken to hospital with serious injuries after a stabbing in central Auckland early this morning. The incident took place on Customs St East about 3.20am, a ... Read more »

Covid 19 Omicron: Booster shots needed against variant, US studies show

Three studies released today offered more evidence that Covid-19 vaccines are standing up to the Omicron variant, at least among people who received booster shots. They are the first large ... Read more »

Covid 19: American singer and actor Meat Loaf, Marvin Lee Aday, dies aged 74

Iconic singer and actor Meat Loaf reportedly died after being diagnosed with Covid as his condition quickly became critical. The singer, born Marvin Lee Aday, died on Thursday night (Friday ... Read more »

Influencer Jade Tuncdoruk apologises for racially insensitive post after honeymoon refund saga

Aussie influencer Jade Tuncdoruk has had a shocker of a week. First, she copped flak after she “demanded” a small business give her a refund on a deposit for her ... Read more »

Palmerston North 2006 murder: Stanley Waipouri's killers denied parole

By Jimmy Ellingham of RNZ GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING Two men jailed for a gruesome killing in Palmerston North 15 years ago will remain behind bars after their first parole hearings. ... Read more »

Daniela Elser: Queen looking to sack Prince Harry from final royal role

Opinion: Six years ago, in January 2016, Suits star Meghan Markle published a post on her now shuttered blog, The Tig, writing: “My New Year’s resolution is to leave room ... Read more »

Covid 19 Omicron: MIQ's purpose would change with spread of variant, but still needed, expert says

By RNZ Border restrictions are still needed, and MIQ will remain valuable even if Omicron is spreading widely in the community, epidemiologist Michael Baker says. The Act Party on Friday ... Read more »

Auckland gets consent to draw more water from Waikato River - 300 million litres a day in total

Auckland has been given the all-clear to draw 150 million more litres of water a day from the Waikato River. This means Watercare now has consent for 300 million litres ... Read more »

Tennis stars hate Australian Open crowd's trend

It’s the soccer trend that has infiltrated the Australian Open – the crowd screaming “siu” when they see something they like. The only problem is, it sounds a lot like ... Read more »

Tonga volcanic eruption: National MP Shane Reti appeals to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to help with telecommunications

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has responded to a NZ appeal to urgently help Tonga restore its internet connection after the volcanic eruption severed communications. National MP Dr Shane ... Read more »

Australian Open tennis: Reigning champion Naomi Osaka knocked out of Open

Tennis pundits predicted that Australia’s Ash Barty would come up against reigning champion Naomi Osaka in the fourth round of the Australian Open, but the Japanese phenom has been knocked ... Read more »

Coromandel now home to two award-winning Four Square stores

The Coromandel has a reason to celebrate as the region is now home to the top Four Square supermarket for the second year in a row. Following the 2020 winner ... Read more »

Louie Anderson dead at 68: Baskets, Coming to America comedian dies of cancer

Louie Anderson, whose four-decade career as a comedian and actor included his unlikely, Emmy-winning performance as mom to twin adult sons in the TV series “Baskets,” died today. He was ... Read more »

Food and water appeal by Northland-based Tongans

Plans for underway to send a container-load of food and water from Dargaville to families affected by a giant volcano eruption and accompanying tsunami that wiped out homes in Tonga. ... Read more »

A-League Football: Wellington Phoenix claim vital win over Western United

The Wellington Phoenix have snapped a four-game losing streak in the A-League, with a vital 2-1 win over Western United on Friday night. Mexican import Gael Sandoval made an immediate ... Read more »

Covid 19 coronavirus: American singer and actor Meat Loaf, Marvin Lee Aday, dies aged 74

Iconic singer and actor Meat Loaf reportedly died after being diagnosed with Covid as his condition quickly become critical. The singer, born Marvin Lee Aday, passed away on Thursday night ... Read more »

NIWA predicts drought for top and bottom of the country

By Tim Kitchin of RNZ Parts of Aotearoa may have to prepare for a third consecutive year in drought. Although spring rain may be keeping some hopeful, it is getting ... Read more »

Facebook Marketplace breeding ground for scams, Northland police warn

Facebook Marketplace is fast becoming a hunting ground for scammers with one Northlander having been conned out of $15,000. Constable Trae Harrison, who investigates fraud in the Whangārei and Kaipara ... Read more »

Unlucky Tararua low on Lotto list

Wanting a big win on Lotto? You might be better off trying your luck in Central Hawke’s Bay rather than the Tararua. According to Lotto New Zealand, the Tararua District ... Read more »

Spring Hill prison officer facing corruption charges gives up suppression bid

A Spring Hill prison officer facing multiple charges of corruption for allegedly smuggling drugs and tobacco has given up his bid for name suppression. However, Scott Topham, 40, is fighting ... Read more »

Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami: Huge turnout at Auckland fundraising appeal

Hundreds of families have turned out to a fundraising appeal in Auckland to give food, water and supplies for the people of Tonga. The queues are taking three to four ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic