I love France #49: Book review: The Scent of Triumph

I LOVE FRANCE!

I plan to publish this meme every Thursday.

You can share here about any book

or anything cultural you just discovered related to France, Paris, etc.

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The Scent of Triumph

by

Jan MORAN

426 pages

Published by Briarcliffe Press in  May 2012

Scent of Triumph

Ebook received from Briarcliffe Press
via NetGalley

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

     hf-reading-challenge-2013   2013 Ebook Challenge  New Authors 2013

 

NB: only parts of this novel happen in France, so I present it in this French meme,
but I don’t count it for my Books on France Reading Challenge

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

rating system

I keep saying I’m done with novels set in World War II, but I keep bumping into some titles I just can’t resist. I’m glad I requested The Scent of Triumph. Its heroine, Danielle Bretancourt, is quite a feisty woman. With all her skills as a French perfumer, eventually a couture designer, and a woman with a warm heart, she fights for her family and her country, as she is caught in WWII. This is a great story of resilience, Resistance, and survival; of family love as well.

I loved Danielle and the other characters, they seem so real and have great depths to them. I liked how the story evolved between different countries: Poland, France (the region around Grasse and Paris), England, and the US. I know nothing about the world of perfumes, and this was fascinating to see how Danielle created her amazing perfumes. It is really neat to see how the author, a perfumer herself, inserted her knowledge into a novel.

There are a few reasons I do not give  a 5 star Eiffel Tower to this book, but this may have more to do with my reading tastes. I thought maybe it was a bit overdone, the way the catastrophes kept heaping on Danielle and her family.  Also, I could feel lots of them coming, and guessed many elements of the plot, such as those related to her little boy. Of course I cannot give those plots away. There is also lots of romance, which I’m not much fond of, but it actually did fit with the character and her fights.

If you love historical novels set in WWII, adventure, and romance, you should really read this book.  And of course it is really a gem if you like the world of perfumes.

Incidentally,  the beginning of the book had some common elements with the shipwreck at the beginning of  The Siren of Paris, another great historical novel set in France during WWII.

Also, being French, I could not but think of Liliane Bettencourt when reading the name Danielle Bretancourt, the sounds are of course so similar, and I assume it is not by chance. Liliane Bettencourt, now 90 and considered to be the third wealthiest woman in the world, is the founder of L’Oréal, currently the world’s largest cosmetics and beauty company. With The Bettencourt Affair, the recent scandal involving France previous President, Mrs Bettencourt is quite present in the media, and we could easily imagine some folks looking for Bettencourt in a search engine, misspell it, and end up with Danielle Bretancourt!

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

 Scent of Triumph is the story of Danielle Bretancourt, a talented young French perfumer with a flair for fashion and a natural olfactory gift. In the language of perfumery, she is a Nose, with the rare ability to recognize thousands of essences by memory. The story opens on the day England declares war on Germany, and Danielle and her family are caught in the midst of a raging disaster sweeping across Europe.Her life takes a tragic turn when her husband and son are lost behind enemy lines. She spies for the French resistance, determined to find them, but is forced to flee Europe with fragments of her family. Destitute, she mines her talents to create a magnificent perfume that captures the hearts of Hollywood’s top stars, then gambles again to win wealth and success as a couturier. Her intelligence and flair attracts the adoration of Jonathan Newell-Grey, of England’s top shipping conglomerate, and Cameron Murphy, Hollywood’s most charismatic star.Danielle charts her course through devastating wartime losses and revenge; lustful lovers and loveless marriages; and valiant struggles to reunite her family. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, here is one woman’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.Available in print and ebook formats: Amazon US http://amzn.to/VvQNir, Amazon UK http://amzn.to/PFiHUy, Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/VGl61W, iTunes/iPad http://bit.ly/Uq0k84, Kobo http://bit.ly/TDNQL9 and other online retailers. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jan Moran

 

Jan Moran‘s latest work is her debut historical fiction novel, Scent of Triumph, on all Amazons worldwide in print and kindle: US http://amzn.to/VvQNir, UK http://amzn.to/PFiHUy. Also for the Nook, iPad, Kobo and other formats.

She is the Rizzoli Books bestselling author of Fabulous Fragrance I & II. A perfume and beauty expert, she is the creator of Scentsa, a touch screen fragrance finder in Sephora stores. Follow her blog on Goodreads, or on the web at http://www.janmoran.com, [a trailer of the book is on her website], on Twitter at https://twitter.com/janmoran, and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/janmoranbooks.
“Scent of Triumph [is a] World War II epic.”— Los Angeles Times
From Jan: “I was inspired by the lush works of Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina, and War and Peace. Like Tolstoy, I love a smart and fierce female protagonist. I set the story during World War II, and gave Danielle the profession of perfumer, a profession that I am quite familiar with. I hope you enjoy it, and if you’d like to Skype me into your bookclub meeting, simply send me a message!” [Goodreads]

REVIEWS BY OTHER BLOGGERS

Book Drunkard
Goodreads readers

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HISTORICAL NOVEL
SET IN FRANCE?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

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I love France #11: French couture

I LOVE FRANCE!

This meme will be published every Thursday.
You can share here about any book
or anything cultural you just discovered related to France, Paris, etc.

Please spread the news on Twitter, Facebook, etc !
Feel free to grab my button,
and link your own post through Mister Linky
please if possible
include the title of the book or topic in your link.

*******

Pour les francophones, la traduction est toute faite pour vous ci-dessous

Once will not hurt, and everything or almost everything is allowed for this meme: I love France. So today let’s go off on a new adventure and discover a very beautiful French blog: La Belle est arrivée. The author is none other than my illustrious sister, so I interviewed her:

Emma:
« La belle est arrivée ». What an original title for a blog! Where is this coming from?

Hanna :
From an old song by Julien Clerc (so romantic!) et in French « la belle » means the rubber game. This song plays on both meanings of the word, and it comes automatically to my mind whenever I start something close to my heart or when I feel particularly happy to be alive.

Emma:
Your site is very nice, very fresh, very creative. Where did you get the idea for this blog?

Hanna:
I had the idea of starting this blog when I saw the creation blogs of American women, I love their warmth, their enthusiasm, and the genuine kindness they put in their comments. It gave me the desire to show my bits and pieces made of fabric and I find the same friendly and positive atmosphere on Marie Claire Idées

Emma:
“Your bits and pieces made of fabric…” That’s quite a humble expression for such beauty! I guess we can’t get to that quality overnight. How long have you been sewing?

Hanna:
For over 40 years. I was 12 the first time I had fun with fabric and thread … I’ll let you do the addition that reveals my “old age”

Emma:
Do you remember by any chance your first sewing project?

Hanna:
Yes, it was cotton pants with thin pale blue and white stripes. I modified the original model to make it fit like a second skin from the waist to knees and very wide at the bottom (it was then the fashion of flare). I think it was a strange effect on a young 12 year old girl, but I liked it very much.
The first time I wore it, it was an afternoon during vacation, I had found in the bathroom a black kohl pencil belonging to my mother, that was the 1st time in my life I used kohl. Since then, I have not stopped sewing, nor using black kohl 🙂

Emma:
Haute-couture and ready-to-wear clothes, this is a very French tradition, isn’t it?

Hanna:
Yes, it is. Overseas and thanks to great designers like Yves Saint Laurent, France and French ladies are associated with an image of elegance. But in reality, very few women can afford this. There exists also a tradition of do it yourself, popularized in the 70s by the magazine “Cent Idées”. ‘Marie-Claire Idées’ brilliantly took over, and their website really brings together the cream of creators of all kinds (mostly non-professional).

Emma:
Can you tell us a bit about your project “Mary Poppins Dressing”?

Hanna:
My project “Dressing de Mary Poppins” is a real challenge, just for fun. It consists in recreating a complete set of Edwardian style clothes (period 1910); from the underwear, which were then so pretty, to the mantle, including the woman’s suit, dress, etc… This project is close to my heart. With the research it involves and the time it will take to achieve it,  it allows me to escape from my job, pretty boring every day.

Emma:
Do you dream of other sewing projects? And with your work and your many readings, tell us your secret: when do you find the time to sew?

Hanna:
After that, I will probably reproduce the dresses or clothes of other famous films that I like a lot. I watched “The Barkleys of Broadway”, an old movie from 1949 with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; a couple of dresses really gave me the desire to jump off the couch and unpack my supply of fabric! As for the time for sewing, I can only do it on weekends and when I take a day off here and there, too rarely for my taste of course.

Emma:
And this blog, do you think it’s going to grow? What would you like it to become?

Hanna:
I would like my blog to give others, young or older ladies, the desire to try their hand at sewing. It is such a relaxing, rewarding, and useful activity too, as it allows to set up a nice dressing room with exclusive designs at a very competitive cost.
Ideally and eventually, I wish I could work part-time and set aside 4 days a week for sewing, in a kind of workshop where I would give classes for example, and for my blog.

Emma:
We spoke earlier of French traditions. How to ignore cooking? And again you’re there a true artist, with your cake decorations.

Hanna:
Oi, as for cake decorations, I am still a real beginner, although I really like it. I discovered this technique through American sites and blogs where you see real works of art. The United States have a long tradition of pastry decoration, they are masters in this field; and what they share on the net continues to amaze me. Due to lack of time, I let this activity aside for the time being, but for sure one day I’ll get back to it!

Emma:
Finally, as a last word, what advice can you give for young aspiring seamstresses?

Hanna:
Get started, cut and sew, and sew, again and again! Reproduce the models you like, imagine your own and make them. Keep an eye on shapes, colors, materials that you see on the street or in magazines. Dream a lot, sew a lot, hands do wonders with a little fabric and a spool of thread. And do not forget to share what you make, your tips and projects, etc. … on the net, because everything in life is more enjoyable when you share:)
And thanks to my sister on the other side of the ocean, who had the idea of this “interview”. Her hands also create wonders with stones and paint, and her heart is as clear as her face.

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Et maintenant pour les francophones:

Une fois n’est pas coutume, et tout est permis, ou presque, pour ce meme: I love France.

Donc aujourd’hui allons à l’aventure et découvrons un superbe blog très French, dont l’auteur n’est autre que mon illustrissime sister!: http://www.siandso.com/la-belle-est-arrivee

Emma:
« La belle est arrivée ». Quel titre original pour un blog ! D’où t’est venue l’inspiration ?

Hanna :
D’une vieille chanson de Julien Clerc (so romantic !) et en français « la belle » désigne la 3ème et dernière manche d’un jeu, celle qui permet de désigner le gagnant. La chanson de Julien Clerc joue sur les 2 sens du mot et me vient en tête malgré moi chaque fois que j’entreprends quelque chose qui me tient à cœur ou que je me sens particulièrement heureuse de vivre.

Emma:
Ton site est fort joli, très frais, très créateur. D’où t’est venue l’idée de ce blog?

Hanna:
J’ai eu envie de l’ouvrir en voyant les blogs de création des américaines, j’adore leur côté chaleureux, enthousiaste et la vraie gentillesse qu’elles mettent dans leurs commentaires. Cela m’a donné envie de montrer mes bricoles en tissu et je trouve la même ambiance sympa et positive sur MCI.

Emma:
« Tes bricoles en tissu… ». Bien humble expression pour de telles beautés ! J’imagine qu’on n’arrive pas à ce genre de qualité du jour au lendemain. Depuis combien de temps fais-tu de la couture?

Hanna:
Depuis plus de 40 ans. J’avais 12 ans la première fois que je me suis amusée avec du tissu et du fil… je vous laisse faire l’addition qui révèle au passage mon âge canonique 🙂

Emma:
Est-ce que tu te souviens par hasard de ton premier projet de couture?

Hanna:
Oui, il s’agissait d’un pantalon en coton à fines rayures bleu pâle et blanc. J’avais modifié le modèle initial pour qu’il soit ajusté comme une seconde peau de la taille aux genoux et très très large en bas (c’était alors la mode des “pattes d’éléphant). Je crois qu’il faisait un effet assez étrange sur une petite jeune fille de 12 ans mais je l’aimais beaucoup.
La première fois que je l’ai porté – c’était un après-midi de vacances – j’avais trouvé à la salle de bains un crayon-khôl noir appartenant à ma mère et pour la 1° fois de ma vie j’avais fardé mes yeux. Depuis je n’ai plus cessé de coudre, ni de mettre beaucoup de noir sur mes yeux 🙂

Emma:
La couture, le prêt-à-porter, c’est une tradition bien française, n’est-ce pas?

Hanna:
Oui, bien sûr. A l’étranger et grâce aux grands couturiers comme Yves Saint Laurent, la France et les françaises sont associées à une image d’élégance. Mais en réalité, rares sont les femmes qui peuvent s’offrir leurs modèles. A côté de cela il existe donc ici une tradition de do it yourself , popularisée dans les années 70 par le magazine Cent Idées qui est resté culte. Marie-Claire Idées a pris brillamment la relève et leur site réunit vraiment la fine fleur des créatrices en tout genre (non professionnelles pour la plupart).

Emma:
Peux-tu nous parler un peu plus de ton projet “Dressing de Mary Poppins”?

Hanna:
Mon projet “Dressing de Mary Poppins” est un vrai challenge, juste pour le fun. Il consiste à recréer un ensemble complet de vêtements de style edwardien (époque 1910); des sous-vêtements  – qui étaient alors si jolis – au manteau en passant par le tailleur, la robe, etc… Ce projet me tient à cœur. Avec les recherches qu’il implique et le temps qu’il faudra pour le réaliser il me permet de m’évader de mon job, assez ennuyeux au quotidien.

Emma:
Rêves-tu d’autres projets de couture? Et avec ton travail et tes nombreuses lectures, dis-nous ton secret: quand trouves-tu donc le temps de coudre?

Hanna:
Après cela il est probable que je reproduirai les robes ou tenues d’autres films célèbres qui me plaisent aussi beaucoup. J’ai regardé hier “Entrons dans la danse”, un vieux film de 1949 avec Fred Astaire et Ginger Rogers; une ou deux robes m’ont vraiment donné envie de sauter du canapé et de déballer ma réserve de tissu ! Pour ce qui est du temps de coudre, je ne peux guère m’y mettre que le weekend et quand je prends un jour de congé de ci de là; trop rarement à mon goût bien sûr.

Emma:
Et ce blog, envisages-tu sa croissance ? Qu’aimerais-tu qu’il devienne ?

Hanna:
J’aimerais que mon blog donne à d’autres, jeunes ou moins jeunes, l’envie de s’essayer à la couture. C’est une activité tellement relaxante et gratifiante et utile aussi puisqu’elle permet de se constituer un joli dressing avec des modèles exclusifs à un coût défiant toute concurrence.
Idéalement et à terme, j’aimerais pouvoir me mettre à mi-temps de mon job et dégager ainsi 4 jour par semaine que je consacrerais à la couture, à une sorte d’atelier où je donnerais des cours par exemple, et à mon blog.

Emma:
Nous parlions tout à l’heure de traditions françaises. Comment ignorer la cuisine? Et là aussi tu es une véritable artiste, avec tes décorations de gâteau. [ajoute une question que tu veux pour ça]

Hanna:
Oï, en matière de déco de gâteau je ne suis qu’une très petite débutante même si j’aime beaucoup cela. J’ai découvert cette technique via les sites et blogs américains où l’on voit de véritables œuvres d’art. Les États-Unis ont une longue tradition de déco pâtissière, ils sont maîtres en la matière; ce qu’ils partagent sur le net ne cesse de m’émerveiller. Faute de temps j’ai laissé cette activité de côté pour le moment mais il est sûr que je m’y remettrai un jour ou l’autre !

Emma:
Enfin, pour le mot de la fin, quel conseil peux-tu donner aux jeunes couturières en herbe ?

Hanna:
Lancez-vous, coupez et cousez encore et encore ! Reproduisez les modèles qui vous plaisent, imaginez les vôtres et réalisez-les. Ayez l’œil ouvert sur les formes, couleurs, matières que vous pourrez voir dans la rue ou dans les magazines. Rêvez beaucoup, cousez beaucoup, les mains font des merveilles avec un peu d’étoffe et une bobine de fil. Et n’oubliez pas de partager vos réalisations, trucs, projets, etc… sur le net parce que tout dans une vie est bien plus agréable quand on partage 🙂
Et merci à ma petite sœur de l’autre côté de l’océan, qui a eu l’idée de cette “interview”. Ses mains aussi créent des merveilles avec des pierres et de la peinture, et son cœur est aussi clair que son visage.

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