Book Review

The Perfumist Of Paris By Alka Joshi

The Perfumist of Paris

  • Author: Alka Joshi
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Publication Date: March 28, 2023
  • Publisher: Harlequin Audio
  • Series: The Jaipur Trilogy #3

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The final chapter in Alka Joshi’s New York Times bestselling Jaipur trilogy takes readers to 1970s Paris, where Radha’s budding career as a perfumer must compete with the demands of her family and the secrets of her past.

Paris, 1974. Radha is now thirty-two and living in Paris with her husband, Pierre, and their two daughters. She still grieves for the baby boy she gave up years ago, when she was only a child herself, but she loves being a mother to her daughters, and she’s finally found her passion—the treasure trove of scents.

When her friend’s grandfather offered her a job at his parfumerie, she quickly discovered she had a talent—she could find the perfect fragrance for any customer who walked in the door. Now, ten years later, she’s working for a master perfumer, helping to design completely new fragrances for clients and building her career one scent at a time. She only wishes Pierre could understand her need to work. She feels his frustration, but she can’t give up this thing that drives her.

Tasked with her first major project, Radha travels to India, where she enlists the help of her sister, Lakshmi, and the courtesans of Agra—women who use the power of fragrance to seduce, tease and entice. She’s on the cusp of a breakthrough when she finds out the son she never told her husband about is heading to Paris to find her—upending her carefully managed world and threatening to destroy a vulnerable marriage.

I’ve been in love with this series from the first chapter of the first book. There’s so much to love about this series, and I was hoping that this book would do what my favorite series ending books do: leave me breathless and satisfied, and sorry to say goodbye to the characters who feel like friends at this point. And let me tell you, it certainly did that. The library hold wait was super long, but it was worth the wait.

I was thrilled to get to see more of Radha, after watching her turbulent adolescent years, and hearing about her traumatic upbringing. But as her adult life unfolds, I realized how much of a stabilizing and positive influence Lakshmi was on her younger sister. One of my favorite aspects of the story was the enduring bond between these two sisters, and how it had changed over the years to adapt to their altered circumstances. 

However, Lakshmi wasn’t able to fix everything for Radha, and there are areas that she still struggles with. She hasn’t ever really dealt with losing Nicky, and has kept it secret from everyone except the people who were involved. It’s affected her self-esteem, but she’s still been able to make it farther than she had ever dreamed of from her tiny rural village. But when she takes her first business trip back to India to obtain a new ingredient for a project with the help of Lakshmi and the courtesans who had taken her in so many years before, her brilliant breakthrough lies just out of reach when she receives news that Nicky is heading to her home in Paris.

The fact that they have the same unusually blue-green colored eyes makes it difficult to conceal who he really is, and when her husband learns the truth, it may tip the scale on an already crumbling marriage. However, it really shows how far Radha has come, in how she thinks about and ultimately decides to handle the situation. I really enjoyed hearing her story, and Sneha Mathan was absolutely perfect with the narration. I loved listening to this story told in a gentle Indian accent, with snippets of French and Hindi thrown in. 

Overall, this was a fantastic story, keeping me enthralled from start to finish. I really enjoyed seeing how Radha’s story played out and tied back to the characters from earlier in the story, bringing things full circle. It was written beautifully, with lush descriptions that allowed me to feel like I was right there alongside the characters. And by the end of this book, I was completely satisfied, feeling like everything was in its place, and in my opinion, everything ended perfectly. 

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