Friday, September 25, 2015

HFVBT Guest Post: Jeanne Mackin, Author of "The Beautiful American"

I am excited to welcome Jeanne Mackin, author of "The Beautiful American" to A Bookish Affair today!

Why perfume?

When I began creating the character of Nora Tours, the narrator of The Beautiful American, it soon occurred to me that I wanted her to become a ‘nose,’ one of those people in the perfume industry whose sense of smell is so acute they can create those wonderful bottles of sensual pleasure, the Chanel No.5’s and Joy, and L’Air du Temps we love.
I wanted Nora to experience life as a series of fragrances, some pleasant, some not, because it seemed a very likely metaphor for Paris between the wars.  Think of childhood, and we often remember the smells of childhood: cinnamon and pine wreaths and muddy fields.  Think of first love and we might remember the smell of a corsage or a bouquet of roses or the herbs of a garden in the moonlight.  Think of Paris, and I think of the scent of yeasty bread, car fumes, the perfume the women wear, the smell of garlic in a bistro and the bouquet of a good wine.  Paris has changed a lot since the 1930’s, but those things stay constant.  Nora would have known those odors, might have thought of the CafĂ© Dome every time someone lit up a cigarette, or of Grasse in southern France, when she smelled lavender.
The truth is, we experience life as much with scents as we do with colors and sounds. And since Nora is in contrast to the other woman of the novel, the model-turned photographer Lee Miller, I wanted her dominant sense to contrast with Lee’s, who was very visual.  Their difficult friendship becomes a kind of imagined perfume, with top notes of laughter and the pleasures of being young and free, the middle notes of shared experiences that unite them in sorrow and a little bitterness, and the bottom notes of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Some readers have said they would never forgive Lee for what she did.  Nora does.  Life, like perfume, is a complex and sometimes messy business.  But if you try, usually you can still find the wonderful scent of flowers and spices somewhere in that complicated odor of experience.

Follow the Rest of the Blog Tour:

Monday, September 21
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, September 22
Interview at Please Pass the Books
Wednesday, Spetember 23
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Thursday, September 24
Review at History Undressed
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, September 25
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Interview at History Undressed
Spotlight at Book Nerd
Sunday, September 27
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, September 28
Review at I’m Shelf-ish
Guest Post at To Read, or Not to Read
Tuesday, September 29
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes
Wednesday, September 30
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Spotlight at View From the Birdhouse
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, October 1
Review at Dive Under the Cover
Interview at The Old Shelter
Guest Post at Books and Benches
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Friday, October 2
Review at A Fold in the Spine
Review & Interview at Singing Librarian Books
Spotlight & Excerpt at A Literary Vacation


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