The Scent Keeper
This book, The Scent Keeper, is about scents — or more specifically, about people whose approach to the world is defined by them. To these people, every person, every place, every experience has a distinct and recognizable scent. Are there really people like this? I don’t know. But if I wanted this novel to be worth reading, I had to buy into it.
It took me a while. I struggled at the start with the endless, seeming silly talk of scent papers scrolling out of a machine filled with holes. I didn’t get their purpose at all. It was only, really, when the machine is destroyed and the ability to save and reproduce scents is shifted to humans that the book came to life for me. And come to life it did.
I loved it. I thought it was beautifully written around a sympathetic protagonist, with a cast of other characters who are flawed but eminently likable. Settings are described not only in terms of scents but with visual acuity for those of us who lack a “nose.” And a love story? There’s a sweet one here – several, actually.
Most fascinating for me was talk of the role of scent in today’s commercial market – as in, stores using scents as a stimulus for sales. As a psychologist, I fully believe this.
One last word about the protagonist, Emmaline. After spending her childhood with her vaguely eccentric father on an isolated island, she is a little odd herself. She is an awkward communicator. She doesn’t quite know how to make friends. She has a way of making bad choices. But these things made me love her all the more.