Author: M.J Rose
Publisher: Atria Books
Part of a Series: Reincarnationist series
Type of book: 1500s, Italy, France, perfumes, collection, death, reincarnation, love, timeless love, France, family legacy, step-sibling relationship, obsession, ruthlessness
Year it was published: 2014
A lush and imaginative novel that crisscrosses time as a perfumer and a mythologist search for the fine line between potion and poison, poison and passion…and past and present.
Florence, Italy—1533: An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. Traveling with the young duchessina from Italy to France, René brings with him a cache of secret documents from the monastery where he was trained: recipes for exotic fragrances and potent medicines—and a formula for an alchemic process said to have the potential to reanimate the dead. In France, René becomes not only the greatest perfumer in the country but the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen to use against her rivals. But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, Rene doesn’t begin to imagine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible.
Paris, France—The Present: A renowned mythologist, Jac L’Etoile, is trying to recover from personal heartache by throwing herself into her work, learns of the 16th century perfumer who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. She becomes obsessed with René le Florentin’s work—particularly when she discovers the dying breathes he had collected during his lifetime. Jac’s efforts put her in the path of her estranged lover, Griffin North, a linguist who has already begun translating René le Florentin’s mysterious formula. Together they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection. A woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir… a purpose for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means. This mesmerizing gothic tale of passion and obsession crisscrosses time, zigzagging from the violent days of Catherine de Medici’s court to twenty-first century France. Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit chateaus, The Collector of Dying Breaths illuminates the true path to immortality: the legacies we leave behind.
The characters were interesting and eccentric, at least the secondary characters were to me. The main characters included Jac L'Etoile who has some extraordinary abilities in perfume making as well as unlocking her previous lives. She is loyal, loves her brother a great deal and is afraid for those she loves. Others included Griffin, her lover who happened to be married but still wants to be with Jac. He is fearless and wants to take chances. I do admit that Rene didn't interest me that much, but he is similar to Griffin although he seems to be have Jac's abilities in perfumes. Rene has a soft soul, and is the type where its better for him to be blind to his deeds rather than know about them. He also becomes obsessed with bringing people back from the dead. The characters that I did find fascinating were Melinoe and Serge, a pair of step-siblings. Melinoe seems to have an obsession with collecting everything and she is ruthless in trying to get what she wants, while Serge himself is Melinoe's supporter and has an obsession in trying to make her happy. (To be honest, would really have loved to explore their relationship in a greater detail.)
There are no coincidences in life
The book is written in both third and first person narratives: the third person is from Jac L'Etoile, while the first person is written as a confession by the perfumer Rene le Florentine who worked for Catherine de Medici. The stories were well written although I wondered what was fiction and what was real. I do wonder if this is the final book of the reincarnationist series or if the author is planning to write more because it did sound final to me. I can imagine that if I were to read all the previous books in the series, my rating might have been different.
M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of fourteen novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.
Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.
For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
When I chose the book, at the time I hadn't realized that it was part of the Reincarnationist series. Upon reading it, while there did seem to be threads from other books, I felt it was an excellent stand-alone novel where you could read previous book if you wished, but it wasn't an absolute requirement. Many times my reading of just stand-alone books isn't successful because books do depend on their prequels. Something else that I enjoyed is the perfume making which reminded me of The Perfume Collector, although I feel its not as good as The Perfume Collector. But still, if you liked The Perfume Collector, then you'll enjoy this book as well. The ideas themselves were interesting and well written; the characters were very memorable and eccentric.
Buy the Book
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)