An often-cited quote asserts that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Substitute “perfume” for “music,” and you get an idea of the challenge perfume writing presents. To communicate how a fragrance smells, a writer often draws from stories, memories, and senses other than smell to evoke perfume’s deep and broad impact. Denyse Beaulieu does all that and more as she tracks the development of Séville à l’aube, an upcoming perfume release by L’Artisan Parfumeur. The result, The Perfume Lover, is a passionate and insightful story not just about the development of a single fragrance, but about how perfume has infused Denyse’s own life. If you enjoy Denyse’s perfume blog, Grain de Musc, you’ll want to read The Perfume Lover.
I consider Denyse a friend, so to avoid a conflict of interest, rather than write a traditional review of The Perfume Lover, I present a handful of questions about the book and Denyse’s responses. Denyse will be checking in, so if you’d like to add your own questions you can leave them in comments.
The Perfume Lover is an unusual combination of memoir, perfume history, and the story of the development of a single fragrance. What led you to choose this format?
I’d say the format chose me…