Perfumes The A-Z Guide – Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez

When ‘Perfumes The A-Z Guide’ by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez dropped through my letter box I wasn’t sure I needed this guide, wasn’t it for girls? It didn’t help that there was a quote from Jan Moir on the book as I think the Daily Mail writer should be put down. I thought I would have a dip in before writing it off. You should never judge on first impressions should you? In fact that’s something Jan Moir might want to consider. Anyway moving swiftly on…

I was dubious about posting about this book as I haven’t read it from cover to cover and I have an issue with giving my ‘book thoughts’ when I haven’t read every page of a book. That rule I think can be broken by one set of books, maybe two actually I wasn’t thinking of gorgeous (and often never touched) coffee table books. I am talking about guide books. Those precious guide books that you can pick up now and again and know you will get some joy from. I don’t have many; I am more of a fiction boy. Would this be one I would add to my collection?

The answer is a resounding yes. From what I have read so far I know this book is one that I will be treasuring for quite sometime, hopefully for life. I am not the biggest perfume addict in the world and so really I am coming to this book from layman’s terms. I would say that I’ve no idea about perfumes whatsoever, I like what I like and don’t like what I don’t like it’s that simple. Imagine my thrill when the aftershave/cologne I wear gets a full 5 stars and the comment “buy it even if you never put it on” mind you its quite pricey so would be a waste just sitting there.

The writing of the book from Luca and Tania is brilliant, it’s honest, blunt in parts, comic in others but most importantly it’s accessible. There is an introduction to perfume criticism, a look at what male and female scents work, a history of perfume and also a whole twenty pages of readers questions answered. Whether you know nothing about perfume or heaps about it you can’t help but be charmed by the reviews. One which had me in hysterics was a review of Paris Hilton’s ‘Can Can’ was simply “can it, by all means”. The experts are never patronising and though some reviews are a little OTT you just think it’s fabulous and carry on wanting to read more and more.

‘The temperate white floral is a pretty, thoroughly laundered and starch lily-of-the-valley type, presentable in polite company, whereas its tropical counterpart is a disturbing, intense night-blooming creature full of smells of meat, milk, rubber and camphor, which bring out the big hairy moths. Passion is one of the strangest night flowers you can find: the banana jam smell of ylang-ylang. An icy camphor-and-wintergreen accord that could grow icicles in your sinuses, and a thick lactonic note that seems to coat the whole thing in butter.’

The book has become not just a hit with me but a household hit as The Converted One is indeed someone who knows their scents (which became very funny when there favourite got two stars and was “nothing to celebrate”, some sulking has been going on at Savidge Towers since then) and there has even been a tug of war over the book such a hit with both of us that it is. We lent it to a guest this weekend and they could barely get there nose out of it, its just superb and I know so many people who could do with this in their Christmas stockings, I am sure you must too. In fact I imagine some of you wouldn’t mind finding this 600+ page delight in your own stocking this Christmas would you?

17 Comments

Filed under Books of 2009, Luca Turin, Profile Books, Review, Tania Sanchez

17 responses to “Perfumes The A-Z Guide – Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez

  1. Oh, I have a very heightened olafactory sense, and I love perfume smells. I learned quite a bit about the industry on a trip to Grasse, France once. In fact, I thought I might be able to start a new career as a “nose”. This sounds totally cool. I would have been fighting over it too this weekend!

  2. Your opening paragraph had me sniggering. Enough said about that odious woman.

    I too love scent and would find this a wonderful coffee-table book to peruse.

  3. Dot

    Great review Simon, what a good idea for a book!

  4. I reviewed this book a couple of months ago and loved it too, I think it deserves much more attention then it seems to be getting, even if your not a scent fanatic it’s a good good read, will probably be taking it home with me over christmas as well as it’s perfect reading if your likely to get interrupted.

    • I will have to nip over to your blog and have a read Hayley. I think you are spot on about them being a great read at Christmas as you can read a review or two between boiling the brussel sprouts, swigging another sherry and roasting the parsnips.

  5. Does it come with scented pages? I suspect not, since you would have mentioned it. If it did, then you really wouldn’t be able to “get people’s noses out of it”!

  6. Bellezza

    Okay, I’m not even going to drool all over this post like I did the last one I commented on. I’m just going to haul a.. over to Amazon.com and buy myself a copy.

    I’m glad you liked the writing, and I must say, I feel that his views of fragrance are spot on. Would you care to venture a guess as to how many I own? Okay, just how many shelves I have of perfume? I’ll give you a hint: it’s a bit less than my bookshelves. Not really, but getting close! 🙂

    • Oooh I like a quiz… let me think. I reckon that you have 200 bottles and three shelves to store them (which I hope is out of the way of sunlight of Luca would be in a fury)!

      Glad you have bought the latest one, every home should have a copy!

  7. This one’s been high on my wishlist since I spotted it. BTW I can recommend the History of perfume museum in Grasse – it has a lovely collection of gorgeous perfume bottles.

    • This place Grasse sounds wonderful, I am going to have to do some more reading bout it and looking into it I think.

      • Base yourself just outside Nice and you can get to many wonderful places on the Cote d’Azur including Monaco (drive the Grand Prix circuit) and St Paul de Vence where there is a wonderful modern art museum up in the hills, and close to the Italian border is a little museum dedicated to Jean Cocteau which was fab. You can tell this was a holiday location that I loved I hope.

  8. LizF

    I thoroghly concur with all the praise of this book – it is very easy to dip into and mightily hard to put down again! I have even forgiven them for being less than enthusiastic about one of my favourite fragrances!

  9. the book deserves all the accolades. perfumes are a part of our fantacies and history.

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