Thursday 18 April 2013

The Diary of a nose by Jean-Claude Ellena

The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur is a delightful publishing anomaly. This gem of a book was penned by Jean-Claude Ellena, a real artist in the world of perfume- in my opinion- and of course the Hermes in house perfumeur/ superstar.

This book isn't new but, as mentioned below, last year was something of a blur. Reading wasn't something I didn't do but I seemed to gravitate towards books I had read before and strangely perhaps to heavier books in terms of tone and content. I have read that the reason that the crime genre is so eternally popular isn't that we all like mystery but that we like the distraction from our own lives- well I certainly read a lot of Agatha Christie.

This book is a different and less intense kind of distraction- an utter delight for a perfume geek certainly- but probably also for anyone who appreciates reading the diary of someone who truly loves and is good at their work.

Ellena shares all kinds of anecdotes, from his early career to what he ate that day. For me it's like visiting a life I'd love to have, if I was a) any good at Chemistry and b) French- it's a pleasure to read.

The English edition comes in a small hardback book with a lovely dusk pink dust jacket that is about as pretty as a book can be- without being too feminine I hasten to add. I read this in virtually one go but I felt so happy and sophisticated having it in my hands on the bus, at the table in the cafe and lastly tucked up in bed.

My favourite Ellena perfume is Eau des Merveilles- and this book is a wonder, to me. 

Published by Penguin in the UK and available from Anthropology on Regent Street in London- and I'm sure other lovely book shops


Perfumeshrine said...


what a delight to see you reading this poetic little book! I found it amusing and interesting and certainly not pedantic, especially in the way he let us fill in the blanks as to what is and what should be (if at all).

One correction though (and sorry if I'm bursting a bubble here): The first Eau de Merveilles (launched 2004) was composed by R.Schwieger and N.Feisthauer before JCE came to Hermes (which is 2004). All the other versions however are his (Eau Claire, Parfum de Merveilles, the excellent Ambre de Merveilles, Elixir etc. )

Emma M said...

Hello Rose, it's nice to see you posting again.

This book is on my 'to-read' list, so thanks for the review. I read Ellena's 'The Alchemy of Scent' last summer and found it fascinating. And my favourite of his perfumes has to be L'eau d'Hiver.

Rose said...

thanks for these comments- E there you go, I didn't know that, illusions shattered sadly!

Emma, he is such a good writer- and I'm reading in translation- I envy these people who are so good at everything!

Also I'm really sorry to the people whose comments I deleted, I've had some bad spam and got a bit over excited when deleting!