Author: Kate Lord Brown
Publisher: Corvus Books
read on my kindle
At its heart, The Perfume Garden is a story of love, and loss and family. There is plenty of tragedy, but also romance. Emma Temple is the young heir to the perfume company “Liberty Temple”, named after her mother. After her ex-boyfriend is caught in the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the death of her mother, Emma moves to Valencia, Spain. Her mother had bought “Villa del Valle” before she died, and had left it to Emma. She opens a florist shop, called “The Perfume Garden”, selling produce from her abundant garden. While renovating the villa, Emma meets Luca de Santangel and his family, and gradually pieces together the mystery of her own family.
In a parallel story, set against the backdrop of the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War, we meet Charles and Freya Temple. This brother and sister have come to Spain as part of the International Brigade to fight against Franco and the Nationalists. Freya works as a nurse, while Charles works as a journalist/photographer trying to tell the rest of the world of the tragedies occurring all over Spain. They rub shoulders with Neruda and Hemingway who are also in Spain for similar reasons.
I really enjoy reading historical fiction, especially when the subject is something I don’t know a lot about, and I love discovering new writers. I haven’t read any of Kate Lord Brown’s novels before, but I will definitely be reading more in the future. It is similar in style to Belinda Alexandra and Kate Morton, both of whom are authors I love. There were also shades of Isabel Allende’s House of Spirits in one of the main characters, Rosa, who is able to read the future. I have read stories set in Spain during World War Two before, but I was really interested to learn more about the years preceding the war.
I loved the Spanish setting – the relaxed style of living, the food, music and dancing, the colours of the sky, and the vividness of the scenery. Mixed with the fact that Emma is a perfume maker, you can almost smell the orange blossoms and the almond soap as they are described on the page.