Alka Joshi's terrific trilogy started in the 1950s with The Henna Artist, where we were introduced to Lakshmi and her young sister Radha. Book #2, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, picked up in 1969. The final book, The Perfumist of Paris, starts in 1974 and focuses on Radha, who is married to Pierre and is living in Paris with their two daughters. Like Lakshmi, she has grown into an independent woman. Radma had worked in a parfumerie and is now working for a master perfumer at the House of Yves. She is given the opportunity to develop a signature scent for a major client and travels back to India seeking the perfect ingredients. While her career is starting to take off, she is struggling in her personal life. Pierre is unable to support Radha's passion for her career, desiring a more traditional stay-at-home wife. And a secret she has kept from her husband is about to be exposed, threatening everything she's built.
You can surely read this book as a standalone but if you haven't read the first two books, why deprive yourself? This trilogy has so much to offer. First, it provides a rich picture of life in India, starting with the period just after the country’s independence from British rule. The author describes life for its wealthiest to its poorest people, the role of women in society and the changes over time. Adding life in Paris into the mix added a lot to the story. You can almost smell the many scents so interestingly described. There are many well-developed characters to follow throughout the trilogy, but Joshi has made it very easy to keep track of them all. This is one family saga I was sad to say goodbye to.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: March 28, 2023.
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