Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for:
The Scent Keeper
by Erica Bauermeister
About the Book
Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives.
Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.
Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.
Title: The Scent Keeper
Author: Erica Bauermeister
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Source: Free ARC from St. Martin’s Press
Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from St. Martin’s Press. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Thoughts: Admittedly, I struggled a little in the beginning, primarily because of the scent machine. The idea that a little machine could capture the complex scent signature of a room, of a person, of a moment, and transfer it to a small piece of paper – a scent paper – where it could be maintained for an extended period of time – well, that was a bit of a stretch for me. Actually, a very long stretch for me. So long that I never really go there, honestly. And suspension of disbelief is so key to getting into the meat of a book, especially when what you are being asked to buy into is a core part of the storyline. However, though it is true that scent is the ribbon that ties the whole story together, the scent machine itself is a background player, and the way in which the author described scent itself was beyond anything I could have imagined.
Scent is such a key part of our every day lives, and our sense of smell is one that we take very much for granted, that we tune out and underestimate, unless what enters our nostrils is especially strong. But every moment of our lives is permeated with a combination of smells that mark a place in time, a sort of signature scent, that changes as we change. What if we were as tuned into the smells that our nose takes in as we are to the sights our eyes take in? We already know that particular scents remind us of certain people, places, events in our lives, but usually only when they are significant to us. And how much thought do we give to how scent influences us? All of these ideas are explored in The Scent Keeper, and I found that to be a truly engrossing part of the reading experience. Not just that it was a unique basis on which to build a book, but that it was highly relevant. Good stuff, that.
Aside from that, the relationship building, the insights about trying to figure out who you are, about giving and getting second chances, trying to understand others and showing empathy until you can, about how we define ourselves in light of those who have taken care of us (or not), how some things and some people cannot be understood and instead must be accepted, and so much more. The characters were flesh and blood, fully formed people that I cared about from the beginning. I would have liked to have spent a little more time with them. In fact, my singular disappointment is that the ending came too quickly and felt rather abrupt. Aside from that, it was a fantastic read.
On the whole, this is a lovely coming-of-age book that digs into the complexity of identity, family, relationships, loyalty and love, all the while exploring the pervasiveness of scent in our lives and the way in which it enriches them.
About the Author
Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. She is also the co-author of the non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.