Timothy Schaffert’s sixth novel has so much going for it that it’s hard to pinpoint only a few reasons why you will love it, but let us try nonetheless ... It’s a thrill to be in Clem’s mind, to follow along as she sinks deeper and deeper into this mystery, as she worries about how to keep her loved ones safe ... With a healthy dose of romance, fashion and espionage and a glimpse of the lives of openly queer artists under Nazi occupation, The Perfume Thief is a reminder that Paris, even in the pages of a book, always makes for a great escape.
... a vivid and striking story ... Through Clem’s perspective, the novel evokes a tapestry of smells and their obscure origins. Paris is wistfully recalled through the scents of each character’s freedom before the war. As secrets and truths are revealed of all, the destiny of each character—and the choices they make—cause reverberations in the lives of the others ... Small acts of bravery during the Resistance may be less known, but this novel gives imagination to the courage of queer lives during the Occupation. Clem embodies the wisdom of a fully-rendered life, filled with deception, compassion, and transformation. A luminous character invented to populate the queer history that was lost. Once she’s allowed herself to love others, she deceives one last time for those she loves.
Schaffert concocts a memorable work that oozes atmosphere and originality ... The plot sometimes gets buried beneath all the descriptions, but it boasts beguiling characters who gain depth with each unveiled layer. Schaffert creates a lasting impression through his tribute to these unique artists, the “alchemists of the city’s very soul,” and their courageous and creatively daring methods of resistance.