Book: The Collector of Dying Breaths by M. J. Rose
Format: Review request and review copy sent by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Pro’s: I loved authors way of describing alchemical substances and materials. Such rich material culture in this book, you really get to know the things involved with the realm of scent in the time of Catherine de Medici.
Book Con’s: I couldn’t quite come to accept the protagonist. There was something about her I found quite irksome.
About The Collector of Dying Breaths
In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years René le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.
But it’s René’s other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.
Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.
Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon.
About the Author
M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of fourteen novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.
I don’t know how I ended up reading this book as well as Perfume by Suskind at the same time but it happened. So it made me smile that I was reading two books primarily involved with the realm of scent. Both books had male narrators with extraordinary olfactory abilities, and both men had shadows to their personalities and pasts. However, in The Collector of Dying Breaths, there are two narrators, one set in the past detailed through Rene and another in the present through Jac, an heiress to a perfume dynasty.
I will quickly say that I enjoyed Rene’s nuanced and flawed character, and I didn’t quite enjoy Jac. The book was a good one, i read it quickly as I was so engrossed I couldn’t put it down. However, by the end I was left with a clear impression that Rene was the saviour in the book, he trudged it along, he set the stage for everything and Jac seemed like some passive bystander doomed to a fate. I found her irksome, however, she does bring up a few interesting issues: accepting oneself, faith in the unknown and so on.
The Collector of Dying Breaths’ strength, however, is Rose’s ability to write a good historical scene. The scenes with Catherine de Medici were amazing, and Rose writes with such depth and skill, I conjured a perfect image in my head. I love HF that can do that for me, make me believe that I’m right there and then, living in it instead of seeing a giant tableau in my head. I was impressed, also, with the material culture of the time. I am a material culture anthropologist by training so her ability to go in depth for a few objects (such as tutty and mommie) impressed me. I was engrossed. If you can get past Jac and her whirlwind romance (which, also irked me) believe me, you will love this book.
Should You Read? Please Do!!!