Reviewed by Debs Carr
Having chosen Kate Lord Brown's previous novel, The Beauty Chorus as one of my two favourite books of 2011, I was delighted to receive The Perfume Garden because I knew I would be in for a treat. I wasn't disappointed. Emma Temple returns home from an extended business trip several months after the death of her much-loved mother, Liberty, and the betrayal by her first love, Joe. She is lonely, grieving and pregnant with his child and when tragedy strikes she decides to leave her job as London's leading perfumier and move to the villa in the hills of Valencia that her mother has left her in her Will. Emma doesn't know what to expect but when she reaches the rundown villa untouched since Franco's forces tore through Spain in 1936, her instincts tell her that the crumbling, dilapidated house with its overgrown garden, laden with orange blossom is exactly what she now needs. As well as the house, her mother has written Emma letters, one for each special occasion, such one, 'On Perfume', another 'On Love' and so on. Emma savours these letters and opens them as and when the time arises when she needs her mother's guidance. Soon after arriving she meets Luca, a handsome, successful Spaniard whose family has lived in the area for generations. He introduces Emma to his family with mixed results. Some of the locals believe the house is cursed, although others are pleased to see the place being brought to life once again. The house holds many secrets, which certain people believe should be kept hidden.