Perfumes To Smell, Books To Read : Autumnal Lists

This time of year makes me prone to bouts of melancholy. I don’t like to bid goodbye to summer vacation, August peaches and picnics in the park. Since my school recollections are filled with the institutional smells of many children in confined spaces, burned milk, wet chalk and blackboards cleaned with a musty rag, I can’t get excited about the whole “back to school” thing either. My memory refuses to budge from this Dickensian vision even when prompted by the delicious smells of sharpened pencils and ink; I hated school until I started college.  I get out of my funk once the fall gets further under way and I notice the walnut sweetness of fallen leaves in the morning air and become grateful for any rose still blooming along Brussels’ chestnut lined avenues. But in the meantime, I just make the best of the transition and come up with lists.

brussels-fall1

Lists are somewhat of an obsession. I’ve been an inveterate list maker since my childhood. My mom treasures a compilation of “books I am going to write” that I came up with at the age of 12. They include “The History of India,” “The History of Greece” and “Constantinople, Jewel of the Byzantine Empire.” (Why on earth did I study political science at the university and not history, I now wonder.) I’m less ambitious these days and instead I just make lists of dishes to cook, places to explore in Brussels, perfumes to try or books to read.

Perfumes

My perfume list this fall is as much about new perfumes as rediscoveries. When I reorganized my collection into a perfume drawer, I found a few bottles and samples that have been languishing in the back of my closet.

Rochas Tocade is one such neglected gem. It’s a radiant rose-orange blossom encased in amber. Radiant and sensual, without trying too hard.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Noir Exquis includes coffee, candied chestnuts, tonka beans and many other good things. Too intriguing not to be tempting.

Chanel Allure has never been a favorite, but I have samples of all 3 concentrations, eau de toilette, eau de parfum and parfum, and I would like to compare them. I’ve been told that the parfum is especially luscious. Same goes for Coco Noir parfum.

Frédéric Malle Noir Epices is an atypical oriental in that it lacks sweetness. It will be perfect for cool fall days.

DelRae Mythique and Coup de Foudre are fragrances I’ve sampled once on paper, and then the samples disappeared into the black hole that used to be my perfume storage space. All is well, they have been retrieved and are waiting to be revisited.

Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom includes two of my favorite things in the world in its name. I must find it. If anyone smelled it already, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Lolita Lempicka Sweet is another new perfume on my list. It promises to smell like lipgloss, cocoa and cherries. Sounds ghastly. I’d love to try it.

Books

I finally read my first Somerset Maugham novel, The Moon and Sixpence, and I want more. Of Human Bondage is on my to read list. If you have any Maugham favorites, I’m ready to take notes.

Oksana Zabuzhko is a contemporary Ukrainian writer (and poet, philosopher, political thinker). I found her novel The Museum of Abandoned Secrets haunting and her treatise on poet and polymath Lesya Ukrainka, Notre Dame d’Ukraine, endlessly inspiring. Next on my list is the controversial bestseller, Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex. In her novel Zabuzhko examines how history shapes us, down to our most intimate expressions. Here is a review that peaked my interest. (The Museum of Abandoned Secrets and Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex are available in English.)

Sholem Aleichem is one of my grandmother’s favorite authors, and we both like Fiddler on the Roof musical, which was based on Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman. I have The Wandering Stars (“a love story, with tragedy and humor mixed in for good measure,” says my grandmother) and Eternal Life, a collection of short stories, on my list. Both are available in English translations.

The Conference of the Birds is an allegorical poem written in the 12th century Iran by a poet and Sufi thinker by Farid ud Din Attar, also known as Attar (Perfumer) of Nishapur. In the poem, thirty birds travel to a summit to select a king, and as each bird has special characteristics and tales to tell, the story becomes an allegory of the Sufi journey to realization of the nature of God.

Virginia Woolf‘s Mrs Dalloway wasn’t an instant love. It took me a while to adjust to Woolf’s cadence, to the undulating, Scheherazade-like quality of her prose, but by the time I finished the novel, I was under her spell. “To The Lighthouse” is going to be my second Woolf nove.

Finished Margaret Atwood‘s The Blind Assassin in a couple of days, and I’m now contemplating which of her novels to start next.

“Now I will dance you the war…. The war which you did not prevent.” So said Vaslav Nijinsky during his final performance and on that same day, January 19, 1919, he began writing his diary. I picked up The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky completely by chance while browsing at what has become my favorite bookstore in Brussels, Tropisme. Born in Kyiv in 1889, Nijinsky went to become one of the most celebrated dancers of the 20th century. He danced with Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, and his technique and artistry were unrivaled. However, WWI has interrupted his work, and he started going insane. His diary tracks his thoughts during this time. Nijinsky and Ballet Russes have a romantic image, but nothing could be earthier than this diary–“Diaghilev dyes his hair so as not to be old. Diaghilev’s hair is gray. Diaghilev buys black hair creams and rubs them in. I noticed this cream on Diaghilev’s pillows, which have black pillowcases.” The English translation by Kyril FitzLyon is supposed to be the best.

Since I’ve given up on finding decent Mexican food in Brussels, I figured that I might as well experiment on my own with Diana Kennedy‘s The Art of Mexican Cooking. Kennedy is the doyenne of Mexican cuisine, and this book is supposed to be her best. I will let you know how it goes.

Even more than writing lists, I love reading the lists made by others, so please share yours.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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254 Comments

  • Therése: Ah, To the Lighthouse is a favourite of mine! And that Nijinsky diary sounds intriguing.

    My perfume list is rather small: I’ll be trying samples of perfume oils that I bought in an Etsy shop. I confess to being seduced by their names. Who doesn’t want to try scents called “As Dark Things Are Meant To Be Loved”, “Absinthe and Laudanumn in the Afternoon” and “Deadly Nightshade”.

    Books! It’s impossible for me to follow a list, I just let my reading take me wherever it goes. This autumn I feel like reading a few cozy mysteries like Agatha Christie or Maria Lang.

    And I will most likely read a few new swedish novels that anyone who is not swedish will never hear of 🙂 September 7, 2015 at 8:19am Reply

    • Victoria: I’d love to know which Swedish authors you’re considering. Even if they aren’t available in translation right now, it’s still good to know. That being said, the number of authors translated in French is huge. Much larger than is the case for English translations in some instances.

      Maria Lang is new to me, so I will have to take a look at her mysteries. That’s one of my top favorite genres. September 7, 2015 at 8:27am Reply

      • Therése: Maria Lang is Sweden’s first queen of detective novels. Between 1949-1990 she wrote 43 books, and all have the same detective in the lead 🙂

        There are a couple of books I am extra curious about this fall. There is a new novel from Jonas Hassen Khemiri that should be good. A collection of short stories from Cecilia Davidsson that I plan to read. Viktoria Myrén has written another creepy novel about relationships, and Aris Fioretos has written “Mary” a novel that has been praised by critics.
        The one that I am really, truly curious about is Karin Johannisson’s “The Wounded Diva”. Johannisson is a professor in the history of ideas and in Wounded Diva she looks at psychological disorders in women during the 1900’s and specifically the interplay between actual diagnosis and the use of that diagnosis as mask and role. Should be interesting! September 7, 2015 at 9:02am Reply

        • Victoria: I downloaded “A Wreath for the Bride.” Pitifully few Lang’s novels have been translated into English, but the choice is wider in French. So I will discover more of them.

          The rest of your reading sounds fascinating. I’m especially intrigued by “The Wounded Diva.” September 7, 2015 at 11:27am Reply

          • Therése: I hope you enjoy it! September 7, 2015 at 11:32am Reply

    • Lynley: Any perfume inspired by Pablo Neruda sounds wonderful to me. September 7, 2015 at 11:22am Reply

  • Connie: The Painted Veil is my favorite Maugham- and Razor’s Edge is also quite good. But Of Human Bondage is also brilliant. Haven’t read The Moon and Sixpence, but it’s on my own list of books to read. September 7, 2015 at 8:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Decisions, decisions. Thank you! 🙂 September 7, 2015 at 8:28am Reply

      • Eva: The Razor’s Edge is one my favorite books ever! September 7, 2015 at 9:15am Reply

        • Annie O: Same here! September 7, 2015 at 10:56am Reply

        • Victoria: Jotted it down! September 7, 2015 at 11:27am Reply

    • girasole: I loved The Painted Veil, also! I think Maugham is generally underrated, so it’s nice to see that others still read and appreciate him. I’ve not read The Razor’s Edge yet, but I intend to.

      Earlier this year I read a collection of vignettes from his time in China, titled On a Chinese Screen. It’s less about China than it is about the experience of expatriates living there, and in that way it reminded me a great deal of The Painted Veil. Less compelling, perhaps, but still very interesting for its often unsparing and insightful look at the peculiarities of human nature and human interaction. September 7, 2015 at 11:59am Reply

    • Katherine: It’s been a few years – but I loved Razor’s Edge when I read it in college. The 1946 movie features two fantastic actors: Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney. I vaguely recollect that the movie doesn’t quite follow the book. September 7, 2015 at 8:24pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Your words about this time of your echo my own thoughts. I always take a while to that moment when you can see the light becoming sort of paler and more grey. I’ll be fine again in a little while, and I’m not even a huge fan of the hot weather. Summer evenings are such a blessing.

    Though I’m not a huge list-maker myself I love reading other people’s lists.
    I just checked my bookcase and the only Maughams I have are The Moon and Sixpence and Of Human Bondage. I think I preferred the latter, but it’s been an awful long time since I read either.I also seem to remember reading a collection of his short stories.
    I’ve read a few Woolfs and To the Lighthouse is my firm favourite. There is a beautiful film of it as well.
    I’m currently reading yet another Maigret: (all for the improvement of my French) Le Quai des Brumes. They are so atmospheric and readable.
    Wearing Cuir Cuba Intense today. I’m really enjoying it even though it seems a bit rough around the edges somehow.

    I’ll be curious to hear what you make of Mythique, it’s one of my favourite irises. September 7, 2015 at 8:36am Reply

    • Austenfan: I realise I left out quite a few words in my comment. Sorry! September 7, 2015 at 8:47am Reply

      • Victoria: I also don’t like summer, but I don’t like the sense of finality that pervades these early days of fall. September 7, 2015 at 9:58am Reply

        • Austenfan: My thoughts entirely! Like a brush with one’s own mortality. September 7, 2015 at 10:19am Reply

          • Victoria: Exactly! I enjoy the bittersweet, the melancholy, but something about this exact time of year is too much for me. The school associations don’t help either. 🙂 September 7, 2015 at 11:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I will do. Mythique has been on my list to revisit for a while, and right now is a perfect season for it.

      Maigret is always a pleasure, and I have a couple of new ones too. I usually save them for journeys, because they’re totally engrossing and can take my mind off the boredom of air travel. Or waiting at consulates or various bureaucratic institutions.

      Were you the one who recommended Tropisme? It was amazing! September 7, 2015 at 9:56am Reply

      • Austenfan: I was! I was so surprised that you had not discovered it, but I now realise why not. You have to wade through quite a lot of touristy horridness before you get there. I think the bookshop was named for a famous work by Nathalie Sarraute: Tropismes. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropismes September 7, 2015 at 10:21am Reply

        • Victoria: I went to see a film with a friend nearby, and as we were walking by the store, I recognized the name and had to stop by. We almost were late for the showing; there were so many wonderful books and I loved how large their collection of literature was. Not just French authors, either. September 7, 2015 at 11:37am Reply

        • Malmaison: This site has an amazing amount of synchronicity going on – yesterday I was trying to explain some corporate machinations at work while referring to Sarraute’s Tropismes, imperfectly remembered from my university French studies. I should have known Bois de Jasmin readers would be as familiar with this as they are with Clinique Black Honey lip gloss, migraines, Dickens and Doctor Who! I love this site. September 7, 2015 at 6:59pm Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Austenfan! So sorry I could not turn you into a Dickensreader! September 7, 2015 at 4:49pm Reply

      • Austenfan: There is still hope! I currently have to read French for my training so that takes up most of my time. But Chuzzlewit will get read, don’t worry about that. September 8, 2015 at 5:11am Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: Glad to hear it! (my personal, quasi religious zeal: everybody must read Dickens..)

          Reading Maigret is a pleasure and an excellent training for your French, in my experience as well. One of my favourites is Maigret en la Viellle Dame. September 8, 2015 at 5:34am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: ET la vieille Dame, of Course! (!!!) September 8, 2015 at 9:56am Reply

            • Victoria: That’s the one currently sitting on my bookshelf. September 8, 2015 at 10:39am Reply

            • Austenfan: I haven’t read that particular Maigret but I very much enjoyed that episode of the Cremer Maigret tv series.
              The one I have just finished is very nice as well: La maison du juge. September 8, 2015 at 12:27pm Reply

          • Austenfan: I have these zeals as well, so don’t apologise. September 8, 2015 at 12:28pm Reply

  • Annette: Victoria, please read Maugham’s short stories. Most of them are masterpieces. His novels, even my favourite The Moon and the Sixpence, are not as good as his stories. I recommend them with no hesitation. September 7, 2015 at 8:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I will do! It didn’t even occur to me to consider them, so thank you. September 7, 2015 at 11:15am Reply

      • Lavanya: I commented in the wrong place below. I meant- that I agreed with Annette regarding his novels vs short stories..:-) September 7, 2015 at 8:53pm Reply

    • Therése: I have also heard great things about Maughams short stories. September 7, 2015 at 11:35am Reply

    • Cynthia L: I was also going to recommend the short stories, and I particular enjoyed the ones set in Malaya and Borneo. I lived as an expat in Borneo in the early 90’s, and even though it was decades laters, his stories so caught the flavor of the place: strange beautiful exoticness mixed with the unforgiving harshness of nature, and people. September 8, 2015 at 2:06am Reply

  • Figuier: I love lists like this!

    At I have a load of rather guilty work & diy oriented ‘should do but haven’t yet’ lists. I like your kind better 😉

    Reading: whenever I feel in need of comfort reading I turn to Woolf – I’m in the process of working my way through her diaries for the umpteenth time, but I don’t own the final volume – so getting hold of & reading it is definitely on my to do list.

    Other ‘to reads’: poems by Paul Celan (in a parallel German/English text, on order – too difficult otherwise); stuff on 19thc French history (given that we covered it at school my knowledge of ‘what happened’ in France post Napoleon is shamefully fuzzy) & my sister has been on at me to read Everyday Sexism, so that’s also on the shortlist…

    Perfume: I’m comparing Volutes edt & edp at the moment. Have always enjoyed the former, but now I have samples of both I’m beginning to veer towards the edp. I’m hoping to explore a few more recent-ish autumnal, low-key orientals over the next few months – suggestions welcome… September 7, 2015 at 9:26am Reply

    • Figuier: That should be ‘at the moment’ September 7, 2015 at 10:01am Reply

    • Victoria: I have loads of those too. Those lists aren’t as much fun to make.

      There is a new biography on Napoleon by Andrew Roberts that’s fantastic. Roberts looks at what happens to France post-Bonaparte, but since he’s a sympathetic biographer, he is somewhat mild on stating the consequences of Napoleon’s actions.

      Low key orientals–how about Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche? September 7, 2015 at 11:32am Reply

      • Figuier: Thanks for the recs, perfume & reading – the Andrew Roberts looks great, I just read the blurb & reviews on amazon and it’s gone straight on that reading list 🙂 Over the summer I read a biography of Josephine, which as you’d expect gave a rather unflattering portrait of Napoleon, so I actually think it would balance things out to read a more positive account. September 7, 2015 at 12:30pm Reply

        • Victoria: I was in the meantime thinking of few more low key orientals: Serge Lutens El Attarine (despite the name, it’s fairly low key, not at all attar like), Goutal’s Musc Nomade, Guerlain Souffle de Shalimar (but it’s a little sweet in the final drydown, for me at least), Hermes L’Eau d’Ambre. September 7, 2015 at 12:39pm Reply

          • Figuier: Thanks for the additional suggestions! Several sound like they should fit my ‘get your nose round musk’ project, & they’re mostly relatively easy to access round here. One question: is the Hermes perfume new? I couldn’t find it on basenotes, but might have missed it. September 8, 2015 at 12:31pm Reply

      • Tomate Farcie: I really enjoyed the Napoleon biography, another biography I found fascinating was
        The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville by Clare Mully–one of the first female spies of WWII, totally forgotten September 7, 2015 at 3:10pm Reply

  • Claire: The only thing I love better than fragrance is beautiful writing, so imagine my delight when I discovered your blog. I’m just popping in to say a grateful thank you for some additional reading (The Pillow Book is on my nightstand) and to give you a comment on Jo
    Malone’s Mimosa & Cardamom, which I fell in love with at first whiff. Alas, like most Jo Malone creations, it vanishes shortly after it dries down to (on me) an unspectacular and muddy finish. I will be interested to hear what you think after trying it. September 7, 2015 at 9:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your nice words, Claire. 🙂 And thank you for your comment about Mimosa & Cardamom. It’s much as I suspected. Jo Malones often have a promising start but the rest of the story is too bland or too shortlived.

      Hope that you’re enjoying The Pillow Book! September 7, 2015 at 11:33am Reply

      • limegreen: Mimosa and Cardamom is nicer than expected, coincidentally I had spritzed my sample this morning to try it again. The mimosa note is really beautiful but fleeting. It’s not as sweet as Mimosa Pour Moi, but not as interesting or longlasting as Une Fleur de Cassie or Diptyque’s Essences Insensees (the first one — the current one is a beautiful jasmine, much like A la Nuit.).
        What’s unfortunate is that M and C is replacing Wild Fig and Cassis in the regular line, and WFC is one of my favorites. September 7, 2015 at 12:55pm Reply

        • Victoria: Ok, my hopes for Mimosa and Cardamom soar again. 🙂 September 8, 2015 at 9:27am Reply

          • limegreen: 🙂 It lasts longer than Mimosa Pour Moi, I’ll give it that! And thank goodness there’s a 30 ml option. September 8, 2015 at 9:42am Reply

            • Victoria: That’s already a good thing! 🙂 And 30 ml bottles are my favorites. September 8, 2015 at 10:37am Reply

        • SilverMoon: I was in York last Saturday and stopped at the Jo Malone shop. The kind sales lady gave me a sample of the new Mimosa and Cardamom. It was really very lovely. A warm and comforting smell. The honey-like mimosa, a warm soft cardamon, and then I smelled a faint rose and faded sandalwood. For the first 30-60 minutes it smells lovely, but then fades… Really nice.

          Also wanted to comment on the absolutely beautiful bohemian themed advertisement photos for the new perfume. I actually rarely even notice them, since most are wishy-washy or overtly sexy. So insignificant or too obvious. This one is colourful, romantic, gorgeous. Not sure if the perfume will live up to the expectations!

          Yes, the 30ml bottle size is great (especially for us perfume lovers who have so many) and really convenient for airports. September 11, 2015 at 2:56pm Reply

      • Theresa: I’ve been reading The Pillow Book too, over the last six months or so. (what is time consuming is reading hte notes in the back!) I find a few pages before bed is a very soothing way to prepare for slumber – to immerse myself in a totally different culture of a thousand years ago, but nevertheless our human nature is the same!

        as far as autumnal literature, may I recommend any of the books by the British author Barbara Pym? they are so subtle and restrained, mostly about the very interior lives of women (mostly frustrated in their external lives, but they manage to find fulfillment anyways) September 8, 2015 at 2:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much, Theresa. I will add Barbara Pym to my list. I don’t know this author, but that’s all the more reasons to read her.

          Yes, I agree with your observations on the Pillow Book. 🙂 September 9, 2015 at 9:17am Reply

          • Austenfan: Pym is brilliant! She reminds me of Austen in many ways. September 9, 2015 at 5:06pm Reply

            • Aurora: Yes to Barbara Pym, Excellent Women especially, so well observed and funny. Quartet in Autumn is very good too but more bittersweet.

              Another quintessentially British writer is Elizabeth Taylor (no relation to the actress). September 13, 2015 at 4:36pm Reply

  • spe: Two von Hildebrand books (Dietrich and My Battle Against Hitler and Alice von Hildebrand Diary of a Happy Failure) are the books I’m looking forward to reading this fall. I guess I’m needing some inspiration.

    Maugham is a favorite writer. All of his published works are worth reading.

    The Jo Malone Mimosa is not something I’ve tried. The vanilla anise is interesting. The line isn’t generally compelling to me as I tend to enjoy scents that are complex and sensuous.

    Scent interests right now include Nikki St Phalle and the older Trussardi fragrances. I may look into the Aromatics Elixir Black. September 7, 2015 at 10:33am Reply

    • spe: P.S. Wanted to mention I also am wearing Allure this fall. I purchased the EDT. Had the perfume previously and it’s lovely. September 7, 2015 at 10:36am Reply

      • Victoria: A friend mentioned liking the EDT more than the EDP, since it’s bright, crisper, without the cloying drydown of the latter. I look forward to comparing them myself. September 7, 2015 at 11:39am Reply

    • spe: Oops – Memoirs (not Diary) of a Happy Failure by Alice von Hildebrand. September 7, 2015 at 10:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Nikki St Phalle is such a beautiful fragrance that manages to be seductive and green, an unusual combination. You’ve inspired me to add it to my list. September 7, 2015 at 11:38am Reply

  • Karen: I am still enjoying today’s entry, Victoria, and am especially grateful for the intro to Numéro Cinq (if I remember the title correctly). And the perfume list is intriguing as well. I always look forward to the ideas, opinions, and intelligence of Bois de Jasmin. September 7, 2015 at 10:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Karen! 🙂 September 7, 2015 at 11:15am Reply

  • Natalie: I believe summer in Brussels is more temperate than where I live in the US. It has been mostly in the 90’s all summer and I am done with it. Tomorrow it will be 95 F (35 C)! I too didn’t start liking school till I went to college. I long ago decided not to associate autumn with school. Instead I enjoy it for what it brings and what I love about the season such as crisp comfortable weather, cozy sweaters and fall fashion, fall makeup, beautiful brilliant foliage, fall candles, warmer perfumes, pumpkin spice everything, long walks outdoors, Halloween, apples…sorry I can go on and on. There is much beauty and bounty in autumn to enjoy too. September 7, 2015 at 11:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Fall is my favorite season, just not the first days of it. As I explained a little further up the comment thread to Austenfan, my dislike of early days of fall has nothing to do with the weather. At any rate, fall is absolutely gorgeous in this part of Europe. Later in September the colors start to change and the streets are filled with the beautiful golden glow. September 7, 2015 at 11:14am Reply

  • Lynley: Victoria, I’ve read The Blind Assassin, Cat’s Eye and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, with a few still yet to read in my bookcase. I loved all of them but intensity and emotional discomfort of Cat’s Eye really left an impression on me, and while I may not ever read it again it’s the one I’d most recommend.
    Woolf and Maugham are still waiting in the bookcase too!
    I’m currently reading A Rage to Live: Biography of Richard and Isobel Burton my Mary S. Lovell. I read and adored A Scandalous Life and am loving this too. She’s a great biographer.

    Perfume: I have a sample of Mimosa & Cardamom that I havent tried properly. I spritzed at the shop but I had little available skin real estate left so although I liked what I smelled, I couldnt pay attention to it. I also have some AdP Rosa Nobile to try. I did cave and buy a small 30ml bottle of Narciso edp however, as I’d find myself sniffing and spritzing everytime Id walk through the perfume department. Simple joys 🙂 And VC&A California Rêverie for our summer ahead. Another sunny day delight.

    I quite enjoy the melancholy feel of autumn. Im a Capricorn baby and we’re associated with those autumn years. January 19 in fact, which makes Diaghilev’s diary even more appealing. I’m looking forward to looking into your book list 🙂 September 7, 2015 at 11:19am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Lynley! I will add it to the list then. Alias Grace was another I was considering to start next.

      Can’t agree more on VC&A California Reverie. It’s such a lovely perfume. Narciso EDP is another of my recent favorites. It’s so easy to wear, but it has many layers and feels like a cashmere wrap. September 7, 2015 at 11:41am Reply

  • Esme: Get the Collected Short Stories of Somerset Maugham Vol. 4 (available also on Kindle) and read “The Letter”. The other stories are good too but “The Letter” is a masterpiece.

    Another book I recommend is “The Door” by Magda Szabo (recently translated and published by the NY Review of Books). September 7, 2015 at 11:24am Reply

    • Victoria: I will do!

      A year or so ago I was on the train sitting next to a woman who was a head of some feminist party in France. We were talking about perfume and books, and Magda Szabo’s work is what she recommended. September 7, 2015 at 11:47am Reply

    • Lavanya: I have to agree with Esme. Short stories were Maugham’s forte. “Luncheon’ is the story that always sticks out in my memory because we read it in school. Not sure if I have read ‘The Letter’. Must find my copy of his short stories. September 7, 2015 at 8:51pm Reply

  • Emma: Favorite book this summer, Jody Azzouni Talking about NOTHING : Numbers, Hallucinations and Fictions. He’s the most influential atheist American philosopher today: the universe doesn’t care about us, there might very well be no explanations for the existence of the universe.
    Currently reading France’s most controversial author of the last past fifteen years, Christine Angot’s new book Un Amour Impossible. I’m obsessed with this woman! L’inceste was published in 1999, it was an instant best-seller.

    Perfumes: Serge Lutens Renard Constrictor, La vierge de fer, Grès Cabochard, Diorling, Chanel N°5. All of them in parfum concentration except for La vierge de fer. Cabochard and Diorling are vintage parfums.
    Favorite underrated perfume, Van Cleef & Arpels First.
    If only Hermès could reissue Doblis in parfum, this would be great! September 7, 2015 at 11:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Can you please describe Renard Constrictor? It was the one that intrigued me the most from the recent collection. September 7, 2015 at 11:45am Reply

      • Emma: (To me) Renard Constrictor is a modern take on Weil Zibeline, a grand animalic floral which features a wonderful delicate heart of rose, orange blossom, tuberose and jasmine on a base of amber and musks. It’s a little on the sweet side but restrainedly so, a lot more feminine and polished than L’Incendiaire.
        You know I love fur perfumes, but they are hard to wear, this smells sophisticated yet current, I don’t really get anything vintage or retro, just a magnificent grand feminine. Good longevity, the projection is medium, people complimented me on it and I’m really enjoying it right now. Pure parfum concentration. September 7, 2015 at 2:47pm Reply

        • Victoria: Your perfume descriptions are always irresistible, Emma! September 8, 2015 at 9:39am Reply

  • frugalscholar: Embers by Sandor Marai
    Emigrants and Austerlitz by WG Sebald September 7, 2015 at 11:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your list! September 7, 2015 at 11:42am Reply

    • Austenfan: I adored Embers, read it in a Dutch translation years ago. I also enjoyed another Marai called “Portraits of a Marriage”. September 7, 2015 at 11:53am Reply

    • Figuier: I love Sebald! And Emigrants is the one novel of his that I haven’t read yet, I’m saving it up for a rainy day. Austerlitz is magnificent, if deeply unsettling (like all of his works). Vertigo and the Rings of Saturn are both fantastic also, if you haven’t got to them yet. September 7, 2015 at 12:38pm Reply

    • Therése: I too loved Embers! And I am putting Sebald on my reading list. September 8, 2015 at 2:38am Reply

  • Rosie Jeffery: Reading; I have just finished ‘Bone Clocks’ by David Mitchell, one of my very favourite contemporary writers, he’s an incredibly inventive and imaginative writer, and this latest work is no exception.
    I’m also reading ‘The Emperor of Scent by Chandler Burr, i am enjoying it, but when i’m reading non fiction, a good novel often lures me away, so they take me a long time to read!
    I’ve recently read sarah walters latest novel,
    a murder mystery set in the aftermath of the first wold war, i highly reccomend that one.
    The next on my list is re reading Katherine mansfield’s ‘The Garden party and other stories’, i highly recommend them to Virginia Woolf fans , her prose is stunning [published 1922]
    Oh, almost forgot, my Margaret Atwood rec. would be [hard to chose!] Alias Grace, a brooding and simmering murder set in the 19th century, based on a true historical murder trial, brilliant stuff.
    Perfume; Cuir de lancome, my latest blind buy- i love it, but wish it was stronger! September 7, 2015 at 11:51am Reply

    • Victoria: You had me to the 19th century and murder trial, so Alias Grace it will be.
      Your other recommendations are all new to me. I don’t read enough fiction, so that’s something to explore. September 7, 2015 at 12:05pm Reply

    • Annikky: Mansfield is wonderful. Penguin Black Classics series has a small book, Miss Brill, with three of her stories – a good place to start without making a big commitment. September 7, 2015 at 5:42pm Reply

  • Rosie Jeffery: Forgot to write the name of Sarah Walter’s latest novel, its called ‘The Paying Guests’. September 7, 2015 at 11:59am Reply

  • limegreen: Happy Labor Day to fellow American readers!

    Books and perfumes, what a lovely combination to chat about. Been enjoying everyone’s lists. 🙂

    As with Claire above, I found Atwood’s Cat’s Eye emotionally disorienting, and more lingering in memory than The Handmaid’s Tale. This might because we listened to Lynn Redgrave’s (I think) reading Cat’s Eye on a road trip on audiobook, and it was riveting.

    I have been meaning to read Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, ever since seeing the mind-blowing play in London. The book is sitting on my coffee table, weighted down by one of my favorites to peruse: MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects.

    Perfumes: Thanks to Austenfan, I am testing the Divine line: So far finding the Divine Eau de Parfum is really beautiful after waiting out the opening; want to try Coeur de Homme again, to see if the iris peeks out for me. This may be a cooler weather “to try” perfume.

    Testing a sample set of the Berdoues Grand Cru colognes, Assam of India is yummy but really adore Selva do Brazil. This line reminds me a little of the Atelier Colognes, but with more oomph on my skin.

    Discovered Maison Martin Margiela Replica Tea Escape and it’s a really fantastic Japanese green tea so far, but when I use up my sample, can’t see myself springing for a 100 ml. bottle.

    Have to say that I was tickled to see Noir Epices on your list — I think it’s a sleeper in the Malle line. I adore it, even in warmer non-Autumn weather, the orange and rose really bloom. For me, the spices come through much more in cooler weather. September 7, 2015 at 12:42pm Reply

    • limegreen: Oops — it was Lynley not Claire re: Cat’s Eye. 🙂 September 7, 2015 at 12:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Happy Labor Day! Hope that you had a nice weekend and a little break.

      MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects sounds fascinating. I instantly recalled The Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, a book that I also love to browse.

      I missed Tea Escape, but so far, apart from Lazy Sunday Morning, the rest of MMM aren’t worthy of a full bottle for me. They’re nice, but not nice enough for the price. September 8, 2015 at 9:25am Reply

  • Ruth: Oooh, I adore Margaret Atwood. My favorites include The Robber Bride, Cat’s Eye, and of course The Handmaid’s Tale. September 7, 2015 at 1:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! So good to know what others enjoy from her. September 8, 2015 at 9:28am Reply

  • Jennifer Shaw: Thank you for reminding me how much I love reading Somerset Maugham. Have you read any of his short stories? They are fantastic! Margret Atwood is one of my favorite authors. Although I would not recommend this one, it becomes more and more relevant with the world today- Oryx and Crake. Since I do love history and fashion, I found The Battle of Versailles. I am certain that it will be an entertaining read. Onto the fragrance- with my allergies flaring up, I need to wait until they subside.

    You have piqued my interest in the Goutal’s Musc Nomade. What is it that you like best about this perfume? I have never tried it, but I do have a tiny sample of Cherugi (one of the Serge Normant fragrances) I love a gently spice and musk/ amber toned scent for the fall and winter.

    I really enjoy reading your blog. September 7, 2015 at 1:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t, but thanks to all of these comments, I realize that I should start with the short stories.

      Musc Nomade has a velvety, sensual drydown, but it’s not sticky or overly sweet as some musks can be. It’s animalic but not raunchy, if that makes sense. A very well-balanced perfume. It’s also a great perfume to pair with wool and cashmere layers on these pleasantly chilly days. September 8, 2015 at 9:30am Reply

  • Jackie: Oh what interesting lists! I’m with you, Victoria, in dreading fall, especially the back-to-school part, which means back to school (university) for me too and the end to glorious, carefree summer days with my two little girls. But, yes, books and perfume are such balms!

    Your lists strike so many chords for me! I’m now positively jonesing for some of the FM Noir Epices sample I’ve been hoarding. This was one of two (the other was Chergui) fragrances that led to my (re)discovery of perfume and discovery of your blog last year. I’ll never forget standing at the counter in Barney’s in Seattle, smelling Noir Epices and the top of my head coming off! What? Perfume can be like this?!

    Then a night or two later I put some on my wrist and read your review aloud to my husband while we both sniffed away, going “yes, yes, yes!” (We did the same with Chergui), and a new world opened up. I can never thank you enough for that, Victoria! ☺

    (Chergui I can live without, but I must have a FB of Noir Epices this fall!)

    While prepping for classes (sigh), I’ve been reaching for Atelier’s Silver Iris, which I find both energizing and comforting, and I’ve just ordered L’Artisan Dzongkha, my first blind buy ever! Fingers crossed!

    As for books, what an exciting range of recommendations! How have I missed Oksana Zabuzhko? Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex sounds right up my alley (the ways history and culture shape us). My graduate work traced the cultural history of the idea of “coming of age” and how it shapes our adult becoming (elevator version!); in fact, two of the books I referred to there were Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage. (I’ve read neither The Moon and Sixpence nor his short stories, so those go on my list!)

    So many books, so little time!

    Victoria, your description of Woolf’s “undulating, Scheherazade-like” cadence is so spot on! In this vein, I can’t recommend To the Lighthouse enough: absolutely hypnotizing: I promise that once you’ve read it, you will never get the spellbinding dinner scene out of your head!

    Magda Szabo is another writer I’ve never read: The Door is at the top of my list! Thank you, Esme! September 7, 2015 at 1:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Noir Epices is more brooding and less classical than other FM perfumes, so it’s an odd duck in the line up. But I love it, and I enjoy how it develops in rich, lush (but not sweet) layers. Like you, I like Chergui, but it’s not a top favorite.

      Dzongkha is on my list to revisit too.

      Zabuzhko is herself a polymath, and I find her work thought provoking. Some of her writing on leading Ukrainian figures is fascinating, but none of it is available in translation. She says that because for the Western audience these books would have been to not merely translated but re-written to include context and history. But in all fairness, after the Soviet brainwashing I don’t know how many Ukrainians truly know their own history. Anyway, The Museum of Abandoned Secrets and Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex are fiction, and the writing is beautiful. Not sure how the translation fares, but based on the reviews, it works. If you like Woolf’s undulating cadence, then you will also find Zabuzhko hypnotic. September 8, 2015 at 9:37am Reply

      • Jackie: “Brooding” perfectly describes Noir Epices. I really need to find a way to justify a bottle.

        Thanks, Victoria, for the added info on Zabuzhko. I really look forward to reading her!

        Btw, did you see Sephora online is now carrying Etat Libre d’Orange, including a sampler. 🙂 September 10, 2015 at 12:51am Reply

        • Victoria: Oh, no, I didn’t, but wow, that’s a surprise. I guess Sephora is expanding its offerings, and ELDO their distribution network. September 10, 2015 at 7:15am Reply

          • Jackie: I see you’ve reviewed several ELDO’s quite favourably, so I can’t wait for my sample pack! 🙂

            I hope Sephora keeps expanding! Happily, one of our Sephora stores in Vancouver carries a few more “niche”-ish (or once-niche?) lines: Serge Lutens, L’Artisan, Atelier, MMM, Juliet has a Gun, etc. September 10, 2015 at 12:58pm Reply

            • Victoria: I know that many have complained about it, because being carried by Sephora makes the lines less exclusive, but I, on the contrary, see it as a good thing. Well-made fragrances should be more accessible. September 11, 2015 at 4:53am Reply

              • Jackie: I agree. I personally see nothing positive in “exclusivity.”

                Bring it on! September 11, 2015 at 1:43pm Reply

  • Sandra: My husband is also a list person. Everything has a list and I am the opposite – I have no lists. But now that I am a mom and balancing work, baby and being pregnant I need to make notes of things or else I will forget! I call it mommy brain!
    For books these days it’s all little kids books, when I get a free moment I dive into Vogue.
    Perfumes to try: I am not sure if the the new version of Shalimar Cologne is/or will be released in the U.S. but I will like to try that.
    Recently going through my closet and will revisit Hermes Kelly Caleche, Samsara and found a bottle of Amouge journey woman.

    Today I was enjoying some time out of the city picking apples, peaches and blackberries September 7, 2015 at 2:39pm Reply

    • Sandra: Oh – the coco noir perfume is excellent – better then the EDP September 7, 2015 at 2:40pm Reply

      • Victoria: Trying it right now, and yes, you’re totally right. It’s much better! September 8, 2015 at 9:38am Reply

    • Victoria: You have a lot on your plate, Sandra!

      Journey by Amouage is a good perfume to rediscover. 🙂 September 8, 2015 at 9:38am Reply

  • Tomate Farcie: to say I’m an avid reader is an understatement…to anyone who will listen I recommend A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I just finished A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra which is also terrific. for the classics Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country. And for a forgotten writer Dawn Powell. And a laugh out loud, Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford September 7, 2015 at 2:59pm Reply

    • Annikky: A lovely list and I have to give a special shout-out to Nancy 🙂 September 7, 2015 at 5:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t read anything by Ruth Ozeki and Anthony Marra, so I will add these authors to my list. And my friend has been encouraging me to read Nancy Mitford, so that’s on the list too. September 8, 2015 at 9:40am Reply

  • Alicia: Dear Victoria, I am also a list maker, the articles i plan to write, new roses and perennials for the garden, those for the shade, those for the sun. As for perfumes I don’t make a list, I read your reviews, and order samples of those which intrigued me. Books are a special case. Literature is my profession, poetry my love. I read where research leads me; at the moment Renaissance commentaries on Ovid. Often, in my free time, I read history. My first university degree was in history. The second in history of the arts (my mother was a sculptor), and still keep a large collection of art books. In both my houses I have very large libraries, and usually choose books to read by impulse as I pass through the stacks. Something similar in choosing perfumes for the day. Unless it is a special occasion, I decide by impulse what to wear that day. Today it is hot here, and I remembered and old, and beloved vintage perfume I have loved for many years:Fidji. Its beauty always surprises me. I have no idea what I wear tomorrow. I like to be surprised by the unexpected. September 7, 2015 at 3:19pm Reply

    • Alicia: Victoria, have you read Jorge Luis Borges short stories? Among the best of the 20th century in any language.
      An extraordinary novel, Gabriel García Márquez, A Hundred Years of Solitude. Perhaps the best novel written in Spanish since the 19th century.
      By the same author, Love in Times of Cholera, although not of the same epic character as A Hundred Years, is a delightful love story. September 7, 2015 at 11:32pm Reply

      • Katherine: Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado is another good read as well. Cooking and magic – lots of fun. September 7, 2015 at 11:57pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes! I liked it very much. September 8, 2015 at 10:11am Reply

      • Michaela: Great recommendations! September 8, 2015 at 9:52am Reply

      • Victoria: I haven’t read anything by Borges, so that’s another author I need to discover. Gabriel García Márquez’s A Hundred Years of Solitude is now on its way. It’s has been in my to-read list for too long, so I finally need to do it. September 8, 2015 at 10:09am Reply

        • Daisy: A Hundred Years of Solitude is one of my favorite books. Whenever I read it, I always get the feeling of falling woozily into warm, humid jungle. September 8, 2015 at 10:49am Reply

          • Victoria: Mmmm, that does sound good. 🙂 September 8, 2015 at 10:51am Reply

          • Lavanya: I love how you describe your reaction to the book! I need to finish this one – I keep meaning to finish it- the last few years I have been notorious at starting but not finishing books- even when I have enjoyed what I read. Probably one of my favorite opening paragraphs! (and my mom’s favorite book :-))

            The last book I finished was Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes- have you read that V?

            Again sorry for being all over your comments – Can’t help myself and all the comment threads are so fun and interesting. A book salon of sorts..*sheepishly slinks away* September 9, 2015 at 4:55pm Reply

            • Victoria: Goodness, why are you apologizing? 🙂 The whole purpose of the comment section is to receive comments. I love this discussion and your commentaries.

              I might have read Thousand Cranes during my Kawabata phase, but I don’t recall it at all. I need to revisit! September 10, 2015 at 7:09am Reply

              • Lavanya: Ok – I won’t..lol.

                Any standout Kawabata you recommend? He reminded me of Ozu (the filmmaker, who I love to call my Japanese Jane Austen..:-)). September 10, 2015 at 12:42pm Reply

                • Victoria: Snow Country! It’s one of my favorite novels, not just from Kawabata but in general. It’s not very long, but it’s beautiful and gets only better upon re-reading (you know, how I mentioned to Theresa that I don’t tend to re-read, well, I make an exception for some novels, and it’s one of them). September 10, 2015 at 12:46pm Reply

                  • Lavanya: Ha – I have a feeling I didn’t pick that because it was his most popular..:)
                    But sounds like there is reason it is the most popular! Putting it on my list! Thanks so much for the rec! September 10, 2015 at 12:52pm Reply

                    • Victoria: It’s definitely worth reading for the imagery, language and a poignant story. September 11, 2015 at 4:52am

        • Karen: Every summer for years I would read it. It’s quite an amazing book – easy to get swept up in it. September 8, 2015 at 1:58pm Reply

          • Victoria: I love books like that. September 9, 2015 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: One of my favorite childhood memories is of my grandparents’ apartment and their large library, with bookshelves three rows deep and the shelves themselves reaching all the way to the ceiling. Browsing in such a way is the best way to select a book for reading, so I’m with you. There is something to be said about a sense of surprise. September 8, 2015 at 9:45am Reply

      • Alicia: When I was 9 years old I got the scarlet fever, and my family isolated me in my grandparents’ very large library. There I discovered Homer, and my love for literature. Although my mother was a Caron woman (Narcisse Noir, Tabac Blond, I love both, but they are no longer quite the same), I believe I owe to my grandmother my love for roses. She wore Creed’s Fleurs de Bulgarie (not sure about the name), but more importantly, she had a rose garden, with old roses of entrancing scents (which I have imitated in my CA house in a much smaller scale). Today is another hot day. I am wearing Chanel Cristalle EDT, and ready to continue reading the humanists’ commentaries on Ovid. Should start writing, but feel too lazy.Victoria, have heard that Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez is very good. Have you tried it? September 8, 2015 at 1:03pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, it’s very good, and I don’t remember if I mentioned it in this thread or in the one on Miu Miu, but it’s one of those easy to wear, appealing perfumes that are nevertheless interesting and have many layers. I wear it when I don’t know what to put on. September 9, 2015 at 9:14am Reply

  • Elisa: Strongly recommend Cat’s Eye! It’s my favorite Atwood aside from The Blind Assassin.

    I’ve just started a new novel, The Dud Avocado, which is about an American in Paris in the ’50s; the first few pages take place in September so the timing feels right!

    As for perfume, I’m finally tiring of the white florals I reached for all summer and starting to crave leathery florals and floraly leathers…. September 7, 2015 at 3:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m also mixing up the florals with warmer, richer scents and gourmands. September 8, 2015 at 9:46am Reply

  • Robert H.: What great lists! This is the time of year when I re-read Chekov’s short stories. Hilariously funny and always manage to lift my mood! Also I will start in on the M.F.K. Fisher omnibus “The Art Of Eating”, a compilation of 5 of her best booksof food memoirs. For current offerings, next up is the first book in The Neopolitan Novels; “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante.

    For perfume, I’m really looking forward to Noir Exquise as well, still can’t pin down a release date or availability however. Also slowly working my way through some of the offerings of La Via Del Profumo, so far each one has been a stunner.
    Happy Autumn! September 7, 2015 at 4:14pm Reply

    • SarahS: I tried Noir Exquis from a tester in Selfridges at the weekend. It is delicious without being sickly- reminiscent of Tea for Two but richer. If they’d had a bottle in stock, I would have snapped one up immediately. It is available on website and I am struggling to resist the urge to type in my credit card details. September 7, 2015 at 4:37pm Reply

      • SarahS: I’d almost decided to purchase Alaia, but it suddenly seemed a pale thing in comparison to the L’Artisan. September 7, 2015 at 4:40pm Reply

      • Victoria: Oops, I didn’t see your comment I replied to Robert. I’m looking forward to testing it myself. September 8, 2015 at 9:49am Reply

    • Victoria: I love The Art of Eating. MFK Fisher is such a brilliant writer.

      Elena Ferrante’s Days of Abandonment was my favorite novel I read last year, but I’m not getting into My Brilliant Friend. I’d be curious to know your thoughts when you read it.

      Noir Exquis already seems to be out here and there, and people report on seeing testers at Selfridges already. September 8, 2015 at 9:48am Reply

  • Annikky: I’m trying not to become overexcited and comment on every single thing on the list, so limiting myself to two:

    1. I bought a small bottle of Mimosa & Cardamom: I think it’s lovely and charming and it lasts quite well on me. The last hours are a bit unexciting, but I can live with that.

    2. I adore, absolutely adore The Blind Assassin and Atwood in general. My number two from her is The Handmaid’s Tale, but I like SF more than the average person (although this is SF in the same sense 1984 is SF). I think Surfacing is the only one I didn’t enjoy much. Why I haven’t read Alias Grace is a mystery. September 7, 2015 at 5:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: No worries! My bandwidth can accommodate it. 🙂

      I was deciding between The Blind Assassin and The Handmaid’s Tale as my first Atwood novel, but being a contrarian, I decided not to go for the more famous one (not that the Blind Assassin is underrated in any way, of course!) But it was a good choice, and I loved the layered plot, the mystery, the writing and the imagery. September 8, 2015 at 9:54am Reply

  • Scented Salon: Ever since I gorged on Mr. Selfridge’s perfume counters and gorgeous outfits, I have been on a World War I and II kick. A fitting book is an oldie but goodie: Nemirovky’s “Fires of Autumn.” The name is also very fitting with your description and photo.

    The perfume that would go with this book might be something like Ex Idolo’s Ryder: dirty, smoky and manly. Specifically for this phrase from the book: “A handsome, golden Hussar, a soldier covered in gunpowder and blood, dragging his sword behind him through the dead leaves.” September 7, 2015 at 6:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have downloaded “Fires of Autumn” before my trip to Kyiv, but I never managed to get to it. Thank you for a reminder. September 8, 2015 at 9:55am Reply

  • Bela: Victoria, have you read Conference of the Birds by John Heilpern? Back in the ’70s, Peter Brook took several actors on a kind of tour to Africa. They had devised a show about Conference of the Birds (through improv) and they were performing it in small villages, very often in front of people who’d never seen theatre and were quite bemused by what they were seeing. JH was there as an observer; he wrote about the trip in great detail; about the actors (Helen Mirren was part of it and spent most of the time in tears), about Peter Brook and his methods, etc. JH is a great writer, full of empathy and humour, and it’s a wonderful book. I love it. September 7, 2015 at 6:41pm Reply

    • Bela: Also, if you like Sholem Aleichem, you might like Song of the Dnieper by my uncle Zalman Shneur (or Shneour). I defy anyone not to fall in love with the hero of that novel.

      Zalman was a famous Jewish writer and poet, who was influenced by Sholem Aleichem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zalman_Shneur (or for more info and a picture of him as a very dishy young man: http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Shneour_Zalman) September 7, 2015 at 7:28pm Reply

      • Victoria: He was so handsome, not to mention incredibly talented. I will definitely read Song of the Dnieper. Just the story of your uncle’s life is inspiring. September 8, 2015 at 10:01am Reply

        • Bela: You won’t regret it, V.

          He was much older than my father and I was only 11 when he died. He lived in New York and we were in Paris. I would have loved to be able to talk literature with him. September 9, 2015 at 5:24pm Reply

          • Victoria: I can just imagine! He sounds like a polymath in addition to everything. September 10, 2015 at 7:10am Reply

    • Katherine: Bela, sounds wonderful. You’ve inspired me to get it. September 7, 2015 at 11:43pm Reply

      • Bela: Thank you, Katherine. Hope you like it. 🙂 September 9, 2015 at 5:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t, but I now will! Sounds wonderful. September 8, 2015 at 9:56am Reply

  • Lavanya: I need to go back and finish your post – but I saw ‘Somerset Maugham’ and had to comment. I think Moon and Sixpence was one of my favorite Maughams (though Human Bondage was my first). My other favorite was probably Painted Veil. Razor’s edge is also nice. I love his short stories. It has been so long since I read these, though. *feeling nostalgic* September 7, 2015 at 8:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have a friend who is my muse when it comes to books. She finally gave me a copy of The Moon and Sixpence, and that’s how I read it and fell for Maugham’s prose. September 8, 2015 at 10:03am Reply

  • Wendy: I love Chanel Allure! I have the edt, edp, and Allure Sensuelle edp. The extrait is definitely on my to try list, although I’m quite sure I’ll enjoy it. One really needs to have the skin chemistry compatibility to wear it well, it seems. And these, even the edt, are some of the longest lasting and strongest perfumes in my collection. It would be amazing if you can do a review of these. 🙂

    PS. Please keep us posted on how you do with the Mexican cuisine cookbook! September 7, 2015 at 10:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Allure Sensuelle was so good, wasn’t it? Actually, Souffle de Shalimar reminds me of it. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend it.

      Kennedy’s book is filled with so many delicious recipes. I don’t even know where to start. 🙂 September 8, 2015 at 10:04am Reply

      • Wendy: I’ve had my eyes on Shalimar Souffle since it came out, but still haven’t had the chance to experience it in person. Original Shalimar is a bit too old school (in the best way possible) for my taste in perfumes to wear, but I admire it and enjoy some of the flankers, such as the Parfum Initial. I’ll probably love Souffle!

        I’m enthusiastic about cooking more but I’m rather inexperienced. A good Mexican cookbook is something I can use in my collection! September 8, 2015 at 9:20pm Reply

        • Victoria: She has several books, so I recommend taking a look at them at the store. Or better yet, visit Kitchen Arts and Letters on the Upper East Side. That’s my cookbook heaven.

          Souffle is very different from Shalimar, and it’s much more contemporary for sure. September 9, 2015 at 9:22am Reply

  • Katherine: Perfume list (to buy and sample):
    Fille En Aiguilles -Serge Lutens- for the pine
    Siberian Snow – DS Durga – for the mint,patchouli, forest
    Rose Nacrée du Désert -Guerlain- for the rose – exploring adored rose scents. Recently fell for La Fille de Berlin.
    Classical Carons – for their mossy glory
    Aftelier Shiso parfum – if I can ever find a sample – for the shiso
    Viridian – DSH – Galbanum, green, pine
    Not sure I like pines – but I like Clinique wrappings so I thought I’d explore
    Bogue Profumo Maai – different scent, love camphor
    Encre Noir -Lalique – rave reviews – gotta try.
    Researching camphor and patchoulis to test. Love Clinique Aromatics and Timothy Han (She came to Stay). September 7, 2015 at 11:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Such a diverse and fun list! Rose Nacrée du Désert is one of my favorite roses, without smelling like a typical rose. September 8, 2015 at 10:10am Reply

      • Katherine: Yes, very diverse – curious to see what “sticks” from this lot. The good news is that I like a lot of different perfumes – but only few are “loves” that make it to the full bottle list! Becoming choosier with time as well. I’m fairly certain this is very normal – and I’m in great company. September 8, 2015 at 12:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s normal, and since you already have a wardrobe, you’d probably pick whatever either is missing from your current selection or whatever really speaks to you. Such perfumes are few and far between. September 9, 2015 at 9:11am Reply

  • marlene: I sometimes make lists,usually as a prod for my forgetful nature. As for books to read,I go with how I feel at the time as a guide. Donna Leon and Andrea Camilleri are two good mystery writers. Georges Simenon-I ration my Maigret books,they are so well written. Just bought Mimosa and Cardamom,I like it very much. Yes,not so long lasting,but I do not want my perfume to announce me. It has an a floral,but spicy aroma,a good segue into autumn. September 8, 2015 at 12:00am Reply

    • Victoria: A lovely description of Mimosa and Cardamom and yes, I feel the same way about Simenon. 🙂 September 8, 2015 at 10:12am Reply

  • Kathryn: Ooh, I was about to share my recollection that the diary was somewhat overly saturated with utopian sentimentality when I looked for a current copy and found I had read not the original, but the Romola doctored version. Going to order the newly found real one
    immediately. September 8, 2015 at 12:05am Reply

    • Victoria: She did “clean” up the diary a lot and removed many bits having to do with sex and other matters she thought were scandalous. September 8, 2015 at 10:13am Reply

  • Erry: I anticipating my stop-over at Dubai Intl Airport because it has Jo Malone counter. I hope it carries Mimosa & Cardamom and Saffron Intense.

    The Glass House, the last book of the Buru Quartet from Pramoedya Ananta Toer -a prominent Indonesian writer- has been waiting on the shelf for quite some time. I also curious about A Wrinkle in Time. I will read it if I have a chance to get a hold of it. September 8, 2015 at 1:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I also bought Eka Kurniawan’s L’Homme-Tigre on my recent bookstore trip, another Indonesian author. Have you read anything by him? September 8, 2015 at 10:15am Reply

      • areaderofliterature: Eee, Indonesian here! I’m currently reading Child of all Nations (the second book of the Buru Quartet) alongside a short story collection. Pramoedya Ananta Toer is considered THE definitive Indonesian author. His books are all about social issues. They can be dense, but they’re also engaging.

        Incidentally, Eka Kurniawan is called The Next Pram. I haven’t read him yet for a shallow reason. All the Indonesian book covers of Kurniawan’s books are depressingly ugly. I envy the international market for having better book designs. September 8, 2015 at 10:41am Reply

        • Victoria: Which book from Pramoedya Ananta Toer would you recommend starting with?

          Incidentally, I cut my finger and splattered blood on my brand new copy of L’Homme-Tigre. Since it came not with a glossy gaudy cover but with a tasteful cream and beige (real) paper design used by Sabine Wespieser Editeur, the stains are now permanent. But since it’s a murder story, perhaps, not so out of place after all. 🙂

          P.S. I hear you on ugly book covers. September 8, 2015 at 10:50am Reply

          • areaderofliterature: Well, the novel most Indonesians read first of Pram is This Earth of Mankind (the first in his Buru Quartet). It’s a historical fiction novel about colonial Indonesia. It has a love story in it but as with most literary fiction the romance takes a backseat to the historical and political commentary.

            But I started reading Pram with the novel The Girl from the Coast. This one is also historical fiction and it depicts the life of a concubine to an aristocrat. I remember it was a sad read. Yet I think it is more accessible than This Earth of Mankind. I’m not sure if it is still easy to find in English, though.

            Do let us know if you enjoy Eka Kurniawan. If you do, I might just bite the bullet and endure the hideous cover. September 8, 2015 at 11:02am Reply

            • Victoria: I found The Girl from the Coast in English (and even an inexpensive secondhand copy for 2 euros), and I see that This Earth of Mankind is available too. Thank you very much. September 8, 2015 at 11:13am Reply

      • Erry: You mentioning Eka Kurniawan reminds me that I still have half of “Beauty is Wound” to read. I don’t know why I left it half-read because I think I like it. It is story of a woman in Indonesia who live through the end of the dutch colonial era, japanese occupancy, Indo independence struggle, and the bloody post independence era. Although it takes place in an imaginary place, the experience and the environment is particularly of Indonesia. His using of mysticism is very Indonesia.

        The cover of the latest Indonesian edition is better, but still not as good as the english one.

        With Pram, I recommend you start with This Earth of Mankind. But, as mentioned by areaderofliterature you can also start with the girl from the coast. It is as beautiful, engaging and melancholy as the earth of mankind, but less dense. September 9, 2015 at 12:36am Reply

        • Victoria: I will see what else Tropisme carries from Indonesian authors. I picked up the novel a whim, mostly because I haven’t read any Indonesian authors yet. Thank you for your helpful suggestions and descriptions. September 9, 2015 at 9:24am Reply

  • orsetta: an inspirational post, thank you, Victoria

    I have to return to Somerset Maugham’s prose. I recently watched ‘Of Human Bondage’ with brilliant performances from Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. it was really something to realise this film is now 80 years old! and still has a great capacity to move.

    As for other books, it seems I’m into *cerebral* black humour picking apart our modern societies 😀
    I recently discovered Edward St Aubyn and his Patrick Melrose novels and now I want to read them all.

    Another discovery in this vein was the Finnish cult author Arto Paasilinna. As often happens now, not a lot translated into English, though. I found him in Italian translations, I suspect there may also be some in French…

    Perfumes i’d like to try are: Guerlain Habit Rouge Dress Code (can’t wait!), Azzedine Alaia, Tom Ford Noir pour Femme and the new Iris Cendre from Naomi Goodsir September 8, 2015 at 1:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Which books by Arto Paasilinna do you like? Even better if in Italian; I need to keep up my language skills somehow.

      I also look forward to Habit Rouge Dress Code. Not sure how I feel about Habit Rouge smeared with pralines, but it can actually be a good addition. September 8, 2015 at 10:16am Reply

      • orsetta: the most famous one is ‘L’anno della lepre’ (and it’s famous for a good reason 🙂 )
        i also liked ‘Il migliore amico dell’orso’, ‘Piccoli suicidi tra amici’ and ‘La fattoria dei malfattori’.

        they are published by ‘Iperborea’, which focuses on Northern European literature.
        The books are also in a very appealing (and portable) format.

        so far i’ve only heard good things about the new Habit Rouge so i’m full of hope…

        i’m also willing to give the benefit of a doubt to the new Tom Ford – apparently it’s done really well, better than many in the private line 😉 September 8, 2015 at 12:24pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much! There is a good Italian bookstore nearby, so I will look for these novels there.

          Tom Ford’s fragrances are usually of very good quality, but I still doubt that the price is justified. I’m curious to try the new one, though. September 9, 2015 at 9:07am Reply

  • Neva: Ah…the last days of August always make me feel nostalgic…as a child I used to stay with my grandmother at the coastside for almost 3 months every summer (we had long summer vacations back then) and for me it meant freedom, living completely carefree. Back to school meant obligations, strict schedule. Of course I prefered the first! Years have gone by and I still feel the same, have tears in my eyes whenever I leave the small town at the coastside. I have to think very hard of things to be anticipated back home and your list came in just right: perfume and books – the perfect combination 🙂 You brought a smile to my face and I appreciate your recommendations very much.
    Thanks to a lovely lady from Estonia I got a sample of Noir Epices and I liked it very much. Can’t wait to get some more. I’m switching from my hot weather choices to Diptyque Volutes, Truth by Calvin Klein while Amouage’s Epic is a steady companion.
    Books – I just finished Franzen’s Freedom and now I need something shorter. Next on my list is Herman Koch’s Dinner or Roald Dahl’s short stories.
    I like your list very much and I will remember putting Nijinski’s Diary and The Museum of Abandoned Secrets on my list. Thank you for this inspiring post! September 8, 2015 at 3:57am Reply

    • maja: I liked Koch’s The Dinner a lot but I believe that his Summer House with Swimming Pool is event better. 🙂 September 8, 2015 at 4:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Same here, Neva. I used to spend summers with my great-grandparents and it was three months of total freedom. I never liked transitioning back to the life of rules and obligations. I still don’t, so one needs to find ways to make the transition smoother. 🙂

      I like Truth by Calvin Klein very much. That green bamboo note is my favorite part. September 8, 2015 at 10:20am Reply

  • maja: I am so glad you’ve enjoyed The Blind Assassin. I would also recommend The Handmaid’s Tale, not an easy read emotionally but a great food for thought. I am about to start Atwood’s The Year of the Flood and will let you know. 🙂 Nemirovsky, Marquez and Saramago are always on my list. Currently rereading Italo Calvino’s novels, such an excellent writer. If I may be a bit patriotic, I’d love to recommend works of Danilo Kiš. They are all translated in different languages.
    Perfume-wise: I got a bottle of Lazy Sunday Morning as a gift I’ve been enjoying quite a bit. Rose chypres are always a blessing in these days of summer blues. ( and back to poetry – Pasternak’s Avgust poem is probably on point, hope you like it as it’s so powerful in Russian) September 8, 2015 at 4:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Please be as patriotic as you like! 🙂 I love such recommendations, especially since they are some of the best ways to learn of authors I may not have known before. September 8, 2015 at 10:23am Reply

  • areaderofliterature: Hello,

    Long time lurker of this website, first time commenter. I’m all for recipes, beauty, culture, and of course, perfume. I love them all. But once you mentioned books to read… I just had to comment.

    I know this is redundant at this point, but I have to parrot everyone’s recommendation for Maugham’s short stories. They are masterpieces of the genre. My favorites are volumes 1 and 2. Maugham was a great world traveler in his day, and he was excellent at showing cultural miscommunications in his short stories.

    Incidentally, I first discovered Maugham on my dear grandfather’s bookshelf. I have since “stolen” many of his books. The second volume of Maugham’s short stories I own was from my grandfather’s shelves and it dates back from the 70s. It smells soooo good and I have convinced myself that it smells different than other old books. I do think it’s more because I have a close and loving relationship with my grandfather so I want even the smell of his books to be unique and special. Do all old books smell the same? I thought I might as well ask you since you may know about the science behind the scent of old books.

    Still on the topic of book thievery, Daphne du Maurier is another discovery from my grandfather’s bookshelves. Have you read her? I live in the tropics so I can’t guarantee, but I think she will be perfect for autumn weather. Especially on Halloween when you need something eerie. du Maurier blended thrillers with a classical writing style so the pages just won’t stop turning. I have a fondness for her short stories “Don’t Look Now” and “The Birds,” which have both been adapted into famous movies. “Monte Verita” is also a great story of hers, even if it is more ambiguous than her usual creepy fare. But most people start with her seminal novel Rebecca (which would be perfect Halloween reading by the way)

    I haven’t read The Blind Assassin and I need to get to it as I have the lovely Virago copy on my shelves. Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale though? You probably have since that is the most famous of her works but the Handmaid’s Tale is wonderful. Some have described it as science fiction but I think it is a domestic novel. Even though the setting and the world is a tyrannical alien world, a lot of the story is based on the home and the hearth, with our narrator Offred trying her best to navigate and survive everyday life in this strange regime.

    The most recent book I finished was The Closed Door and Other Stories by Dorothy Whipple; a collection published by the wonderful Persephone Books of London. Persephone publishes neglected (mostly) women’s fiction from the mid-twentieth century and Whipple is their star writer. Whipple’s style is clear and uncomplicated, and her humor echoes Jane Austen and a bit of Dorothy Parker (although Whipple’s witticisms are winks to Parker’s slaps). There’s one happy ending too many in this collection but she can do sad and devastating too. All in all, the perfect book when you’re having a bad day.

    I’m currently reading a collection of Alice Munro’s short stories (it’s titled Runaway). When I first read it two years ago, I disliked it. So aimless, so pointless. But I began rereading it and I am loving it. Munro is deeply sensitive and empathetic. I haven’t found a single villain yet — it’s just ordinary people navigating life. Sometimes you make the “wrong” decisions, but who doesn’t.

    Like you, I struggled with Mrs. Dalloway. I found it dry and tedious. But a friend whose literary tastes I completely trust recently sent me a passage from Mrs. Dalloway and it is incredibly beautiful. How did I miss the lovely prose the first time around? Thanks for reminding me I need to reread it ASAP.

    As you can see, I love short stories and I love to recommend them so go ahead and use me as a recommendation tool.

    And goodness I’ve rambled too long. I can only hope this post has not bored anyone. September 8, 2015 at 5:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! This was a wonderful comment full of many great suggestions and lots of food for thought. I will definitely turn to you for more recommendations.

      Dorothy Whipple’s novels intrigued me in particular as did Persephone Books of London. I will look into it!

      I’ve read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and saw the film many times, but I haven’t read anything else. September 8, 2015 at 10:26am Reply

  • Tiamaria: It’s funny, I really like this time of year because it reminds me of going back to college (which I loved) more than going back to school (which I hated!). It was a long time ago but the shortening evenings, cooler days and falling leaves evoke the feelings of the excitement of returning to college after the summer.

    As regards lists, as my interest in perfume (though it is bordering on obsession at this stage!) is only very recent I think it would be easier for me to list the perfumes I don’t want to sample. The ones at the very top of my to smell list though are from Chanel – Bois Des Iles and No. 22, Serge Lutens – La Myrrhe, Sarrasins, A La Nuit and Iris Silver Mist. From Jo Malone – Dark Amber and Ginger Lily. I’m dying to smell Fracas as I am totally in love with Carnal Flower so I want to smell the original tuberose classic. I also want to smell Portrait of a Lady on my skin as I sprayed some on a card back in February along with a few other Malles and I didn’t think it was something I would wear since I’m not mad about rose perfumes. I had all the cards I sprayed in a little plastic bag, folded over so they weren’t touching, in my top drawer. After a few weeks all the cards smelled of POAL and I enjoyed the smell more as the weeks went on. I can still smell it when I open the drawer!

    As regards books, I’m currently reading ‘Gilead’ by Marilynne Robinson which I’m loving. It’s the first in a trilogy so I’ll be reading ‘Home’ and ‘Lila’ when I’m done with this. The other book on my list is Toni Morrisons new book ‘God Help The Child’ as she’s my favourite author. September 8, 2015 at 5:48am Reply

    • Karen: Wonderful list of perfumes to try! Bois des Iles is beautiful, I received a sample from the SA at Saks and it’s almost gone much to my dismay! An elegant woodsy fragrance. And Fracas – stunning. If you’ve been reading BdJ for a while, you might already know of my love for PoaL – it is like enveloping yourself in a velvety rose with the depth of patchouli and a touch of Oud. Seriously sumptuous!

      And thanks for the reminder about Gilead – had it on my list a while ago. September 8, 2015 at 6:43am Reply

      • Tiamaria: Thank you Karen, your description has convinced me to order a sample of PoaL next! My initial thought on it was not for me, but I thought the same when I first smelled Carnal Flower, I almost washed it off, but because I had a sample I tried it again and now I’m a little addicted to it!

        Gilead is a beautiful moving book written in such an unassuming manner that has left me with a deep sense of wonder at the beauty of the world and the miracle of life.. Not many books do that for me! Truly masterful writing. September 8, 2015 at 9:40am Reply

        • Karen: I hope you like (love!) PoaL! And good for you for sticking with CF – it’s quite intoxicating. Perhaps intense fragrances are speaking to you now. I’ve noticed that perfumes really resonate at different times, and it’s fun observing what works and what doesn’t. Not always any logical explanation. I was actually surprised to find myself craving gourmands right now.

          Keep us posted on PoaL – it seems to be a fragrance that doesn’t work for everyone. September 8, 2015 at 10:19am Reply

    • frugalscholar: The 3 books by Robinson are excellent. I liked them all better on re-reading. And then there’s her earlier book–Housekeeping–which may be the best of all.

      So many great suggestions here. Much appreciated. September 8, 2015 at 9:35am Reply

      • Tiamaria: I haven’t read Housekeeping so that’s going on the list too! September 8, 2015 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Your perfume list has a nice synchronicity, since Bois Des Iles, No. 22, and Serge Lutens La Myrrhe are in an aldehydic family but with different accents. It would be fun to compare them. PoaL is strong stuff! I have a blotter scented with it and even after a month I can still smell perfume on it. September 8, 2015 at 10:29am Reply

  • Karen: So happy for some reading ideas! Since finishing The Map Thief, a non-fiction book that was amazing, a few months ago everything since has either annoyed or bored me. You know it’s bad when the NY Times Sunday books section has nothing that sparks a desire to read.

    But I did find a wonderful cookbook the other day, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, by Maureen Abood. Lebanese recipes that so far have turned out as tasty as the photos. Her writing is wonderful. I’m with Victoria and others on cookbooks – when not knowing what to read, a cookbook is almost always a perfect choice!

    On another post, I wrote to Angeldiva about craving gourmand perfumes lately – and that is still going strong! Two Guerlain’s have hit all the right notes, Cuir Beluga and Gourmand Coquin. It’s funny because it’s really warm (hot) here and normally I’d wait until cooler weather for these, but yum yum yum.

    Also through Limegreen’s generous gift I discovered Ambre Sultan which I love and plan on getting a FB – amber is a note that’s close to my heart as I used to wear amber oil years ago. Also emptied my sample of Feminite du Bois which I also loved.

    Great fun reading all the comments! September 8, 2015 at 6:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Have you read Elizabeth David’s cookbooks? Hers make some of the best reading. I especially like her books of essays, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine or Is There Nutmeg in the House? September 8, 2015 at 10:30am Reply

      • Karen: I haven’t, but they are now on my list! It’s so funny because many people have no idea how fun and inspiring it is to read cookbooks! September 8, 2015 at 2:06pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s too bad that most cookbooks today prioritize photos over recipes and descriptions. I’m tired of the glossy volumes with untested recipes and zero context or practical advice. September 9, 2015 at 9:15am Reply

          • Karen: I know – after trying several recipes from a very well-known celebrity chef (very famous!) with results being, well just a *bit* not quite right, I concluded that many of her recipes had never been made as written. Photos were great and fun style, lacking only in actual usable recipes! September 9, 2015 at 3:20pm Reply

            • Victoria: Rick Stein is one of the few celebrity (and TV) chefs whose recipes I love. His books are also full of photos, but he doesn’t dumb down the traditional recipes and captures flavors well. September 10, 2015 at 7:06am Reply

              • Austenfan: I like Stein’s food documentaries very much. He is such an enthusiast about food. I’m glad to hear that he delivers good quality recipes as well. September 10, 2015 at 8:19am Reply

                • Victoria: He seems like such a bubbly, enthusiastic guy. I must have followed all of his documentaries so far. September 10, 2015 at 8:33am Reply

    • limegreen: Hi Karen! So glad you are enjoying the perfumes/samples. 🙂 Can’t believe how much you love Ambre Sultan! It’ll behave differently when you have cooler weather, maybe more of the oregano? It’s seriously syrupy, viscous like maple syrup. 🙂 September 8, 2015 at 12:29pm Reply

      • Karen: Oh Limegreen, Ambre Sultan is sooooo one of my new favorites! When I wore Amber oil, it was sold as Tunisian Amber oil and back then it made me feel so very very something – exotic? This was when I was a carpenter, and so wearing jeans and tee shirts or jacket, so definitely gave me a boost. September 8, 2015 at 2:09pm Reply

  • Bonnie: I’m glad you enjoy Margaret Atwood. She lives here in Toronto and can often be seen nonchalantly taking a walk downtown. A very lovely woman and so approachable. Another Canadian writer that I love is Ann-Marie MacDonald, whose spellbinding novel Fall on your Knees made her a household name in Canada. I am currently reading her latest novel, Adult Onset, which is about a woman in mid-life becoming unmoored. I’m only half-way through but it’s one of those books that’s very disturbing yet you can’t put it down. September 8, 2015 at 7:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for more great recommendations. September 8, 2015 at 10:32am Reply

  • Aisha: I wasn’t planning on trying any new (to me) fragrances until I read your description of L’Artisan Parfumeur Noir Exquis. It had me at “coffee.”

    You know my list of books to read is endless. 😉

    I read Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and To the Lighthouse in college for an English class. I have to admit that I didn’t them. Her stream of consciousness writing style made it too easy for my mind to wander. I did enjoy her essay “A Room of One’s Own,” however. I still have all three books and may re-read them at some point. I’m planning to read a lot of classics this fall/winter (as many as my schedule will allow), so we’ll see how soon I get to them. I’m just starting “Middlemarch” by George Eliot. September 8, 2015 at 8:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I also want to start “Middlemarch” by George Eliot. It has been recommended here several times.

      Woolf’s prose takes a while to adjust to, especially if like me, you read a lot of non-fiction and science writing for work. September 8, 2015 at 10:34am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Oh yes, Middlemarch! Please read it, you will enjoy it! September 8, 2015 at 10:42am Reply

      • Lavanya: Yes – middlemarch! It is one of my favorite novels! September 8, 2015 at 12:31pm Reply

        • Victoria: I read the first few pages last night, and yes, I can see myself changing my whole list and starting with this one. 🙂 September 9, 2015 at 9:09am Reply

      • Austenfan: Middlemarch is excellent but I think I enjoyed The Mill on the Floss the most out of Eliot’s novels. I think though, that Middlemarch is generally considered to be her best. Another, often overlooked, great 19th century English author is Elizabeth Gaskell. Her Wives and Daughters is brilliant. She never finished it unfortunately, but still a great read. September 9, 2015 at 4:38pm Reply

        • Lavanya: Austenfan – We had to read an abridged version of the Mill on the Floss in school. Overall- I didn’t enjoy it much. But after reading Middlemarch I realized that she (George Eliot) is one author who must not be read ‘abridged’. Never. lol. I should probably read Mill on the Floss again (unabridged). Thanks for the rec.

          And Daniel Deronda is on my list to read as well – I started it a couple of years ago, found a wonderful copy in a used bookstore in Boston while at a conference – must resume. Have you read this one? September 9, 2015 at 4:49pm Reply

          • Austenfan: No it’s the one Eliot that I haven’t read. I did watch the TV series of it though with an excellent Hugh Bonneville. September 10, 2015 at 8:20am Reply

        • Victoria: I have The Mill on the Floss too, but I haven’t read it yet. I’m finishing an engrossing and fascinating book about Hinduism by Wendy Doniger, and I’m starting on the rest of my list soon. September 10, 2015 at 7:08am Reply

    • Ida: I love classics! My shelves are full of them. I read them all year long, but I can see why shorter and cooler days feel more inviting to reach for a classic. To me “Middlemarch” is one of the books everyone should read in their lifetime. I also recommend “Daniel Deronda” and “Silas Marner”. September 9, 2015 at 6:15am Reply

  • Michaela: Love your plans when you were 12! And I admire your lists.

    I owe my current list of books to Austenfan, many thanks! After I read and forgot Pride and Prejudice long ago, I discover now how delightful it is. I looked for Jane Austen’s books. I think I like Emma best until now. September 8, 2015 at 9:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Emma is also my favorite, even more so than Pride and Prejudice. But I still have Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility to read. I ration Austen’s novels, since there are so few of them. September 8, 2015 at 10:38am Reply

      • Lavanya: Ok – I don’t mean to butt in – but can’t help commenting on every comment when the topic is books – :D. I agree that Emma is probably a better /more nuanced novel than P & P though I love them both . You will enjoy, Sense and Sensibility, V!. I didn’t enjoy Persuasion as much as the rest but I think I think it was because I read all her novels at around the same time in my teens and by the time I got to Persuasion, I was a bit burned out. I must re-read it sometime. [Incidentally, my ‘Jane Austen phase’ was followed by the ‘Somerset Maugham phase’..LOL) September 8, 2015 at 12:43pm Reply

        • Ida: Interestingly, many critics consider Persuation Austen’s best novel. I read this one ages ago, now I’m curious to see if it’s indeed such a gem. September 9, 2015 at 6:28am Reply

        • Victoria: That’s more than welcome. 🙂 For me it was the same–the Jane Austen phase is followed by the Somerset Maugham phase. 🙂 September 9, 2015 at 9:10am Reply

      • Theresa: No need to ration her books – just read and re-read! I’ve read them all many times. Persuasion is probably my favorite. Even her silly Northanger Abbey is worth reading more than once. September 8, 2015 at 6:48pm Reply

        • Victoria: I just have so little time to read, so I prioritize reading new authors over revisiting books I already read. Of course, some books must be re-read, and you discover much more with each encounter. September 9, 2015 at 9:19am Reply

    • Austenfan: You are very welcome. I’ve read many times that Emma is considered Austen’s best but I like P & P better. Probably because the love story in P & P is more convincing and more moving to me. September 9, 2015 at 4:41pm Reply

  • Karen 5.0: Thank you for those lists! I, too, make lists – for me, it’s the books and films I’ve enjoyed in the last 5 years or so. Here are a few “get-under-your-skin” books I’ve read lately: http://wwwkmw.blogspot.com/2015/08/get-under-your-skin-books-for-you.html

    I feel melancholy at this time of year, too, but it’s often tempered with excitement and the urge to travel somewhere. Springtime affects me the same way. I hope the “walnut sweetness” reaches you soon~ September 8, 2015 at 10:27am Reply

    • Victoria: The urge to travel does sound familiar. 🙂 September 8, 2015 at 10:40am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: BOOKS:
    I tried to read Bánffy (in Dutch: Geteld, Geteld) but I did not have the patience to finish it. Too aristocratic maybe? From the same period, the bourgeois Márai is one of my favourites too (in Dutch and German translations), especially ”Bekenntnisse eines Bürgers”.
    Austenfan inspired me to dig up my Maigrets again, or to buy them anew. Another French author, excellent for training your French: Françoise Sagan.
    On my list to read: the recently discovered ”roman fleuve” Les Thibault. According to some critics, even better than Zola.
    I loved this summer a Robert Galbraight mystery, in the Dutch translation ”De Zijderups”.
    Every fall, I reread Bleak House, in november.
    Loved also a book about the curious 17th. century polymath Athanasius Kircher by Daniel Stolzenberg. It concentrates on his ”Oedipus Aegyptiacus”.
    New this fall: Dynasty by Tom Holland, the Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar. And I will order a copy of The Death of Caesar by Barry Strauss.
    PERFUME:
    Arabie, Lutens
    Bornéo 1834 Lutens
    Femme and Byzance, Rochas
    Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue, Guerlain
    Belle d’Opium YSL (can’t help loving it). September 8, 2015 at 10:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Both of your lists are great!
      I’m also looking forward to Dynasty by Tom Holland. That period of history is not the one I know well, and I like his style a lot. I recently finished IN the Shadow of the Sword and found it thought provoking and very interesting. September 8, 2015 at 10:42am Reply

    • orsetta: ah, I need to re-read the ‘Bleak House’! but I will do it now, before the days get very short 😀 September 8, 2015 at 1:17pm Reply

    • Karen: Good reminder to get Mitsouko out – I put it up for the summer. September 8, 2015 at 5:25pm Reply

  • irem: I am late to the party, but I still want to join, especially since I love Maugham. His first book I’ve read was The Painted Veil, and I would highly recommend it. It is on my “Can be read a second time” list. I’ve read The Moon and Six Pence, Razor’s Edge, and Of Human Bondage too, but it is Kitty and her journey that resonated most with me. Maugham is entertaining yet not shallow and I find it hard to believe he wrote in the 1920’s. September 8, 2015 at 10:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Not late at all! It’s still in full swing. 🙂 Thank you for your thoughts on The Painted Veil. You make me want to pick it up before the other two. September 8, 2015 at 10:45am Reply

  • Daisy: Diana Kennedy’s The Art of Mexican Cooking is one of my favorites. I love how her writing makes Mexican cuisine so accessible, but she doesn’t dumb down the recipes at all. I think you will love it! September 8, 2015 at 10:54am Reply

    • Victoria: I really like that in a cookbook. I want to know how the dish is prepared traditionally, not the author’s “simplified” version. Because once you have a complete recipe, you can easily simplify and adapt yourself. September 8, 2015 at 11:07am Reply

  • Lavanya: Ok – Now that I have read your whole post : -)

    1) The Museum of Abandoned Secrets is such an evocative title – I am putting it on my list.

    2) I really like Fiddler on the roof too – I just love it when the ‘father’ starts singing..:)

    3) I think I tested Noir Epices in detail a while back because you urged me too (since I was mourning the reformulation of Caron Poivre). I really like it.

    4) I have a bunch of books on my list and I really need to make a dent in it. As for perfume – I want to acquire samples and spend some time with Vero perfumes – I have a feeling I will love them but haven’t lived them (I sniffed them in passing at the scent bar few years ago). September 8, 2015 at 12:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m still going through Vero’s perfumes, and since there are now so many variations on each, it’s taking me a while. Some are instant loves, others aren’t, but in all cases, they’re memorable.

      That part of Fiddler on the Roof is one of my favorites too. September 9, 2015 at 9:12am Reply

  • Katy: You must add Jason Goodwin to your list of writers to try. I was hooked after reading The Janissary Tree, a wonderful historical mystery that takes place in Constantinople in the 1860’s. The protagonist is like no other, he is a eunuch, and the the total immersion into the sights, smells and flavors of this remarkable city are incredibly evocative. September 8, 2015 at 9:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: I will do, Katy! Sounds like something I’d enjoy. September 9, 2015 at 9:23am Reply

  • Heather H: Hi Victoria,

    I am a list maker too. This fall’s list is schools I am going to apply to for my son. He goes to kindergarten next year. I am a little depressed because I do not think I can afford the schools I want him to attend as I have three children now. So the school I pick is the one I pick for all my children.

    I never loved school either despite being a former first grade teacher for 13 years. When my son was born I hoped he would love school, but if he doesn’t he will be like the rest of us right.

    As for perfume no more lists for me. I am enjoying the perfume I have. Maybe I should match schools with perfume. September 9, 2015 at 12:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Good luck, Heather! Finding schools is hard, no matter where you are. I was just speaking with a friend who had to camp out for several hours in front of a registration office for the local preschool. The spaces are limited and registering kids can be problematic.

      Which perfumes have you been enjoying lately? September 9, 2015 at 9:26am Reply

  • Charis: This is only my second time commenting on your blog, due to a somewhat chaotic, toddler dominated routine (although I noticed that somebody else is also posting as Charis), but I have been reading obsessively for quite some time- your blog was the initial inspiration for my appreciation of fragrance, and is still the one that draws me in the most, for its combination of erudition, humanity, and beautifully evocative writing.

    I was so excited to read this post, one day after ordering a bottle of Mythique (which turned out to be surprisingly tricky in Europe!), and I’m very curious to read your future review.

    As for lists- I have given up on them for the time being, as they tend to serve only as reminders of things I am unlikely to get around to in the near/medium future, but they are wonderful ways to crystallize dreams and ambitions. At the moment I’m contenting myself with those Luckyscent/Surrender to Chance wishlists 🙂 September 9, 2015 at 7:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Charis! I remember you commenting and asking a question about perfume reformulations a while ago (I don’t recall another Charis here.) I remember because it inspired me to compare versions of Parfums d’Empire in the old and new bottles. 🙂

      Mythique is hard to find in Europe, because DelRae no longer has a distributor here. But I really hope that the brand finds one, because it’s such a good collection.

      Yes, there is something of an ideal in lists, but I find that once I make a list, I tend to stick to it. Even it takes me ages to do so! September 9, 2015 at 9:30am Reply

      • Charis: Oh, it’s lovely to hear that I managed to give something back, even if only by chance 🙂 The perfume in question was the extrait of Vol de Nuit- I ended up with Thierry Wasser’s recently reworked version, and I find it wonderful. By the way, I found Mythique via a Polish online shop, and they said that they normally don’t ship outside Poland, but would make an exception for Parfums Delrae, due to the poor availability in Europe. September 9, 2015 at 3:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: Which Polish store was it? Someone else mentioned here being unsuccessful at finding DelRae in Europe, so maybe it would help. September 10, 2015 at 7:06am Reply

  • Trudy: I’m a little late getting in my comments….but I really want to try DelRae’s Coupe de Foudre too. I spritzed it on my wrist in passing, at some point in time, and I keep remembering that it was really nice. I would also like to try Wit. I’m curious about Chanel’s Misia. Normally I like sunny soft florals, even in the fall, but I would like to venture into something a little deeper and different. Not sure what that would be. I love the new Narcisso in the white bottle but it’s sort soft and floral too! Love the reading suggestions. I have to say, although I love to read, I haven’t been able to really dive into anything for a few months. Just can’t seem to stay still and concentrate! I have always enjoyed getting lost in a good book so much , its time to try again. I will take some of these suggestions into consideration! Lovely topic as usual. September 9, 2015 at 12:56pm Reply

    • Trudy: Just thought of something else….I remember elementary school class rooms smelling like bananas, paste, pencils, books and paint. I remember the easels had a place to hold little milk carton- type containers of paints. The cubbies where we put our lunches smelled of bananas when we opened the doors. Good memories. I, too, am a life long list maker. It makes me feel organized and ready to go! September 9, 2015 at 1:20pm Reply

      • Victoria: This sounds wonderful!
        I, on the other hand, didn’t even see a banana until the Berlin Wall fell. 🙂 But in all fairness, there were nice smells at school too–freshly washed wooden floors, new boxes of chalk, or the library. September 10, 2015 at 7:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Misia is a blend of violet bonbons, rose, woods and makeup powder. A charming perfume.

      Glad to hear that someone else also enjoys Narciso! September 10, 2015 at 7:03am Reply

  • fleurdelys: Coincidence: I just finished “The Moon and Sixpence” myself! I’m a fan of supernatural and ghost stories, and Maugham wrote a few good ones (sorry, can’t remember names offhand!). I’ve also read “Rain”, “The Painted Veil”, and “Cakes and Ale”. “Of Human Bondage” should be next.

    Also read Nijinsky’s diary a few years ago, and it is sad to follow the deterioration in his mind through his increasingly unintelligible writing.

    I recommend Isaac Bashevis Singer. “Short Friday and Other Stories” is one of my favorite short story collections. September 9, 2015 at 5:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, wonderful! Some more great recommendations. Thank you. September 10, 2015 at 7:10am Reply

  • Bela: This is such an interesting thread. So many lovely books! September 9, 2015 at 5:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: My reading list has quadrupled since I started reading the comments and noting down suggestions. 🙂 September 10, 2015 at 7:11am Reply

  • lupo: Thanks Victoria,
    of all places – never would I have thought to find mentions of The Conference of the Birds of Farid al Attar on a perfume blog 🙂
    It’s a beautiful sufi book, a real gem.
    I’m on the hunt for the Nijinsky diary! September 9, 2015 at 10:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: After all, he chose “Perfumer” as a pseudonym. 🙂 But this aside, the book is a treasure, and even the translation is gorgeous. I can just imagine what the original must have been like.

      Just be sure to look for the complete version of the diary, not the Romola edited one. It makes for a disturbing and sad read, to be sure, but it’s also an important document. So little of Nijinsky’s work survives, hardly few clips of his dancing, so this diary is his most lasting testament. September 10, 2015 at 7:13am Reply

  • Carla: Atwood’s Handmaids Tale is may recommendation. I read Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse this year. I had never read Woolf. She’s not a favorite for sure but glad I know her now. I’m on a Nancy Motford kick right now, her books have been perfect summer reading September 11, 2015 at 9:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, not yet my top favorite, but I’m enjoying her writing style more and more. Another reason I don’t have complete admiration for Woolf is because she was arrogant and viciously mean to Lydia Lopokhova, John Maynard Keynes’s wife. She herself admitted this much later. Lopokhova is one of my favorite ballet artists, and she herself was such a vivacious, bubbly personality. I loved whatever bits of her recorded dancing I could find. September 12, 2015 at 8:32am Reply

  • Montréalaise: Like you, I always felt melancholic if not downright depressed at this time of year (it doesn’t help that I love summer and dread the coming winter). What helped me enormously was to draw up a list of all the things that I love to do in fall, and then do them. They include driving to the country to see the fall foliage; sitting in front of a fireplace with a good book and a glass of Cognac; visiting fall fairs and auctions; going to the farmer’s market for fall veggies and trying out new recipes; buying a new cashmere sweater; and swapping my lighter summer fragrances for the orientals I love. It really does help. September 13, 2015 at 11:17am Reply

    • Victoria: This is a wonderful strategy, and yes, I can see how it can be not only therapeutic but inspiring. I love all of your list entries. 🙂 Tempted to do #2 this evening. September 14, 2015 at 11:53am Reply

  • Aurora: I’m catching up on this very informative post. I love your lists!

    As several others have spoken of her, I can only add my voice to theirs Katherine Mansfield is a great favorite, her short story Bliss is just wonderful as is The Garden Party already noted above, in my eyes she achieved what Virginia Woolf aspired to. I reread recently La Princesse de Cleves and enjoyed so much more this time around, am currently reading Mary McCarthy The Stones of Florence, Venice Observed, I find her a great writer of essays even though she is most famous for The Group. I plan to read Anthony Trollope this winter. Another writer I love is Willa Cather, I have only Obscure Destinies, short stories, and A Lost Lady, a novella, in my library currently, used to have also My Antonia and Oh Pioneers! when I was in the US: They’re all great reads.

    Hope testing the 3 concentrations of Allure will be interesting, and perhaps let us know the results, I am not an habitual user but this is the season when I start craving its vanilla goodness. I’ve also rediscovered Moschino, this month, the one in the gold package, and it seems it doesn’t get mentioned. I wonder if you like it too, it would be great to see it the subject of another wonderful review. September 13, 2015 at 2:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Katherine Mansfiedl’s book is now on the way. After all of these warm recommendations, I simply must read it. Thank you so much for sharing. September 14, 2015 at 11:55am Reply

  • Rox: Jo Malone’s new Mimosa and Cardamon is not lasting which is typical of Jo Malone. Not nearly as good as last year’s Diptyque Essence 2014. Will not be buying. Today I am wearing Montale’s Oud and Honey. Been waiting for cooler weather here in the NW to enjoy it. September 14, 2015 at 11:20am Reply

    • Victoria: I know that it’s their whole aesthetic, light and fleeting, but I still don’t enjoy when my perfume doesn’t last. September 14, 2015 at 12:58pm Reply

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