On Tuesday I was invited to the book launch for M.J. Rose’s latest novel: The Collector of Dying Breaths.
I read the book several weeks ago, and it’s one of those books that stays with you. It takes place in both modern and 16th century France, and revolves around the ancient idea that our soul leaves our body with our last breath. Alchemists believed that it was possible to develop a formula that, when mixed with the dying breath, would allow someone to be reincarnated. It’s not just an old belief however. Both Henry Ford and Thomas Edison made arrangements to have their last breath captured.
In this suspense novel, René, the perfumer to Queen Catherine de Medici, is searching for this formula. His story is juxtaposed with that of a modern woman, Jac, who is studying René’s work and hoping to unlock the secret to immortality. There’s also a more sinister element to the novel, with René mixing poison with perfume for Queen Catherine to give as “gifts” to France’s enemies.
The event was held at Mysterious Bookshop, a store in Tribeca specializing in mystery, crime and espionage novels.
The evening began with M.J. Rose discussing The Collector of Dying Breaths.
There was quite the crowd, I was impressed! That would be my greatest fear as an author- that no one would show up to my book launch!
M.J. Rose spoke about her writing process, and I was surprised to learn that she writes her books by hand. She feels that this allows the story to flow freely without interruption, and feeling inspired I decided to write this entire blog post by hand.
Ok, I didn’t actually do that, but based on the amount of distractions I did have while writing it, M.J. may be on to something!
M.J. Rose has such a passion for perfume and scent, and her book intricately describes the process of making perfume. However, in the book René used some very strange ingredients in his perfumes including whale vomit and the black shinny stuff that comes out of the skulls of mummified people.
I was shocked when I found out that this was not an artistic liberty that was taken. Perfumers actually did this in the 1500s. What I would like to know is who in the world was the first person to come up with that idea?!
After the talk, all of the guests (including myself!) lined up to meet M.J. and have their book signed.
Because the book revolves around the mysteries of scent and perfume, we were given as gifts the perfume specially designed for M.J. Rose’s main character, Jac L’Etoile. I LOVED the paper it was wrapped in- it was perfect for this historical novel!
The perfume is called Ames Soeurs, or “scent of soulmates.” I actually really liked it, and I’m very picky about perfume.
M.J. also showed the ladies a better way to wear perfume. Most women spray it on the inside of their wrists and on their neck near their ears. But according to M.J., the scent rubs off quickly on the inside of the wrist, and the oils in your hair alter the scent when it’s behind the ears. So she recommends spraying the top of your wrists (like where your watch would be) and the front of your neck. I’ve started doing that now!
You can find out more about M.J. Rose’s new book, The Collector of Dying Breaths, here.
You can find the Ames Soeurs perfume here.
Don’t worry, there isn’t any whale vomit or mummy sludge in this perfume! Or poison… I hope…