BOOK REVIEW: Scent by Isabel Costello

April 22, 2021


Isabel Costello

When Clementine and Edouard’s last child leaves home, the cracks in their marriage become impossible to ignore. Her work as a perfumer is no longer providing solace and her sense of self is withering. With the narrative journeying through Provence and Paris, the present day and the sun dappled past,  this unflinching look of how the desire for a compelling relationship and fulfilling life tears at the fabric of established life is a portrait of sensual struggles.

Filled with olfactory observations and passion the book is a sensual treat. in days where we are restricted from travelling ourselves Costello captures the warm sunbeams, long shadows, glances, tastes and smells of a journey,  and it feels we are tumbling slowly along the byways of rural France and tucked in behind an old friend who takes us round Paris. Its a convincing sense of place.  The narrative journeys in time and headspace and as we move in the real world the echos of past experiences cling on to spaces, holding a power, we follow this emotional sillage.

The appearance of an old lover, one filled with electric possibilities and re-embraces of her intense bisexual past introduces discord and conflict into the calm days of her existence, Costello’s prose expertly leads us into the unsettled mind of the protagonist, examining what sacrifice and fear can drive you to do, the arguments & accusations, realisations and regrets of having spent a long time with one person, and the implications of suppressed or forgotten desires resurfacing and demanding acknowledgment.  Costello’s narrative thrusts the truth under our noses, we smell the complex scent of fear, the astringent sting of truth, and the warm undertones of honesty, and examines the price that finally being honest with yourself can exact.

Out now £14.99

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