The small independent fragrance company Scentings recently expanded its line of literary-inspired scents; now, in addition to perfume oils named after Jane Austen heroines Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse, Scentings represents the mystery genre with Miss Marple and Nancy Drew.
I still remember the very first time I read a Miss Marple mystery: it was The Mirror Crack'd, and it was the first Agatha Christie book, even the first "grown-up" mystery, that I'd ever read. I was eleven years old, and it was a gift from a teacher; I was thrilled by it. Years later, having read many more Christie mysteries, I savored every episode of the BBC Miss Marple series starring the peerless Joan Hickson. That series was unimpeachably faithful to the books and to the character of Miss Marple.
Scentings is just as faithful to Christie's creation, in its own way: Miss Marple really does seem like a perfume that the legendary crime-solver might have worn. It's "a remarkably vintage floral blend" with notes of "antique lilac and lavender" and a "clean, light, classic" feel. That description is just right. Miss Marple is simple, yet complete: the herbaceous, slightly greenish lavender is balanced by the sweeter, almost powdery lilac note. Miss Marple does feel old-fashioned, in the nicest way, yet it's not at all dusty or musty. I can imagine can imagine Jane Marple buying a fragrance like this from some traditional British company like Yardley of London.
Nancy Drew, unlike Christie's delightfully consistent Miss Marple, is a character who has undergone a number of metamorphoses over her lifetime, from her changing appearance in the books' cover art to her behavior and manner of speaking in the text to her "rediscovery" as a feminist icon. Although I did read a number of Nancy Drew mysteries, I never grew as attached to them as I did to the Miss Marple stories. I was always slightly uneasy around Nancy, or rather, uneasy about the way her personality (and even her looks) seemed to shift over the series' decades of titles and the ever-changing roster of "Carolyn Keene" ghost-writers.
What perfume would this girl sleuth wear? That would depend on the particular mystery and the year in which it was written; the Nancy of the 1940s (something from Coty?) probably wouldn't smell like the Nancy of the 1980s (Ralph Lauren's Lauren?), for example. Scentings' Nancy Drew is a "crisp, sugary, light" scent with notes of vanilla absolute, Key lime, lemon, clementine, and lilac. I'd call this a perfect "summer vanilla," since its sugar-cookie heart is offset by the bright citrus notes.
I can't way exactly when or where Nancy Drew would wear this fragrance, but it's a light-hearted blend that has good staying power without feeling too overwhelmingly gourmand. It would be ideal for a teenager, or even a younger girl just starting to love mysteries.
Scentings Miss Marple and Nancy Drew are packaged as multi-product sets ($45). Each set includes a 10 ml bottle of Perfume Silk, a 10 ml dropper bottle of Jewelry Oil with two limestone beads for scenting, a silver-plated charm necklace to hold the beads, and a pair of lavender sachets. The "aroma charm" for Miss Marple resembles a little silver knitting basket, and the necklace for Nancy Drew includes a magnifying glass, a tiny dagger charm, and an "aroma charm" shaped like the scales of Justice! The Jewelry Oil is also sold separately ($19). More information is available at the Scentings website.