Book Review: The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert (ARC)
"A Gentleman in Moscow meets Moulin Rouge in this stylish, sexy page-turner about Clementine, a queer American expat and notorious thief of rare scents, who has retired to Paris, only to return to her old tricks in hopes of protecting the city she loves when the Nazis invade in 1941.
Clementine is a seventy-two year-old reformed con artist with a penchant for impeccably tailored suits. Her life of crime has led her from the uber-wealthy perfume junkies of belle epoque Manhattan, to the scented butterflies of Costa Rica, to the spice markets of Marrakech, and finally the bordellos of Paris, where she settles down and opens a legitimate shop bottling her favorite extracts for the ladies of the cabarets.
In 1941, as the German's stranglehold on the city tightens, Clem's perfume-making attracts the notice of Oskar Voss, a Francophile Nazi bureaucrat, who comes to demand Clem's expertise and loyalty in his mysterious play for Hitler's favor. Clem has no choice but to surrender fully to the con, but while she knew playing the part of collaborator would be dangerous, she never imagined it would be so painfully intimate. At Oskar's behest, and in an effort to win his trust, Clem recounts the full story of her life and loves, this time without the cover of the lies she came to Paris to escape.
Complete with romance, espionage, champagne towers, and haute couture, this full-tilt sensory experience is a dazzling portrait of the underground resistance of twentieth-century Paris and a passionate love letter to the power of beauty and community in the face of insidious hate."
I received The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert for free in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour organised by Pride Book Tours. Thank you so much for having me on the tour!
I was immediately intrigued when I saw The Perfume Thief especially when I saw it being compared to A Gentleman in Moscow which is one of my favourite books.
The Perfume Thief follows our protagonist Clementine who is a "retired" con artist living in occupied Paris during World War Two. Clemetine was such an interesting character and I really enjoyed getting to know her and learn about her past. I love stories about con-artists because they always make the most fascinating characters! She is clever, compassionate and so cool! Plus she is surrounded by a great group of friends who are fierce and full of personality and fight!
The LGBTQIA+ representation throughout the book was amazing and I loved it so much! Queer historical figures have always been erased from history (or depicted as just "close friends") so I thought it was really great to have a historical fiction full of this representation to show that we've always been here. I also really liked how the author explored gender expression and gender identity throughout the story!
The concept of the story is very clever, well written and also offers a really interesting viewpoint of Parisians during the occupation that you don't see much in books about the war. Especially how they must have felt and their individual rebellions that they fought everyday.
Additionally, I love perfume and I really enjoyed the sensory experience whilst reading and finding out more about different scents and their meanings.
The Perfume Thief is an intelligent, rebellious and charming story that historical fiction readers will love!
Thank you so much for having me on the tour! Thank you for reading my thoughts, you can also find me on my Twitter and Instagram! Let me know if you have any recommendations of what I should read next.