Cover Image: Atlas of Perfumed Botany

Atlas of Perfumed Botany

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Member Reviews

Jean-Claude Ellena is a master - if not the master - of perfumery, and this beautifully illustrated book takes the reader through a quirky tour of the history and use of perfume's most popular natural ingredients. From sourcing rose, jasmine, and ylang ylang to deciphering the notes and quality of chypre and oakmoss, as an amateur perfumer and an expert olfactory biologist, I was introduced to a depth of complexity behind materials and molecules I encounter and use often, Highly recommended, whether you collect Ellena's Hermes scents or just wonder why different types of cinnamon have slightly different odors.
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This is the perfect bedtime read. Ellena moves lightly from each brief section with stories and facts about the plants that comprise perfume components. It is engaging without being suspenseful, and sometimes that's just what you're looking for. That it occasionally reads like an extended ad for Hermes can be forgiven.
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Fascinating, and even useful since I actually make perfume and other scented items. 

Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
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4 stars

I was so intrigued with this book. Such a well thought out and meticulous index/encyclopedia of sorts. I’ve always been so interested in scents and perfumery and having this guide lay out the botanical elements to scents, along with personal memories and stories attached from the author was a real treat to read. Definitely worth reading!

ARC given by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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This sumptuously produced book, with its stylized botanical illustrations, touches upon it all – the art, culture, and the science of perfume-making. The eclectic book belongs in any aesthete’s bookshelf — even aesthetes who doesn’t necessarily wear perfumes themselves.

The book is divided into segments based on the part of the plant the essential oil is drawn from – the woods, roots, leaves, flowers, fruits, gums, or the seeds. The fragrance of iris, for instance, comes from the leaves, not the flowers, while the scent of carrot is drawn from the seed, not the stubby root.  Every chapter is devoted exclusively to a particular plant which is prized for its scent. Creative Director of Fragrance at Le Couvent, Jean-Claude Ellena writes about the plant’s provenance, the history and cultural lore surrounding it, and his own experience of crafting perfumes with the ingredient.
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This is the perfect gift for perfume lovers!

It's a dictionary of botanical elements, all famous perfume ingredients, from the point of view of Jean-Claude Ellena. That means it is not so much about these ingredients but of his experiences, his personal encounters and memories featuring them. And he has fantastic stories to tell.

It's a mix between a perfume dictionary and a biography of a master perfumer. If you don't want to read too deep into his life story, but only read his experience in the realm of perfume this book is the answer to the quest.

It's an enriching book, filled with interesting snippets and invaluable personal notes, a wonderful insight into a great perfumer's world.

I received a copy of this in order to offer my honest view on it.
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It was a fascinating read and I learned something more about perfumes and the part of the plants used.
It's informative, well researched, and well written.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Atlas of Perfumed Botany is a beautifully illustrated atlas/encyclopedia of the art and botany of perfumery by renowned "nose" Jean-Claude Ellena. Released in French in 2020, this English language translation is due out 5th April 2022 from the MIT Press. It's 168 pages and will be available in hardcover format. 

This is an accessible and well written nonfiction atlas of scented botanical materials used in perfume, and presented by a world renowned perfumer with decades of experience. He writes very knowledgeably and well and it's very clear that he knows what he's talking about. The book's chapters are arranged thematically: woods & barks, leaves, flowers, gums & resins, seeds, and roots. Each entry includes the name with botanical (Latin) nomenclature, and wonderfully warm stories of the plants and how they're grown and processed. It could be a dry recitation, but these vignettes are anything but - they're told in a personal and conversational manner and felt to me much like an informal coffee date with a mentor.

The translation work by Erik Butler is seamless. I never once felt yanked out of the flow of the stories or found anything that was clumsily translated or awkwardly worded. The illustrations by Karin Doering-Froger are graphically attractive and restful and enhance the individual entries well. They have a sort of botanical print / Wm. Morris vibe. 

Five stars. This would be a good choice for public or school library acquisition, as well as for gardeners and readers who enjoy botanical reading. The author is a joy to read and vastly knowledgeable.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes
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Scents are incredibly transportive and meaningful, whether memories evoked are positive or negative.  This book takes the reader on a spellbinding journey around the world where scents are found and discovered from various parts of plants and scenery to how they become perfume and other products.  Each chapter contains gorgeous botanical illustrations.  I would love to see photographs of various plants as well. 

Fascinating Atlas of Perfumed Botany is written by a French Perfumer who has worked with the likes of Hermès and Bulgari.  He describes odors, scents and perfumes as he sees them and explains the parts of the plant which produce scents (for example, the iris scent does not come from its flowers).  Just as artists can recognize the lumber they use when they burn, he recognizes notes and has used them in perfumes.  One may not at first be attracted to the note of horse urine but essential oils are perfectly chosen in the ultimate combinations and ratios.  Plus he describes several specific scents and where they are grown, terroir and their origins.  He also refers to mythology and the importance of scent in daily use (soap, laundry detergent, medicine).  He notes taste and smell are closely related so a combination of spices and citrus created Old Spice cologne.  His inspiration comes from botanical gardens and pastoral scenery on his travels.  Though not a perfume person, I can understand his passion and am intrigued by botany as a master gardener.  As I live in the Mediterranean part of the year, most beguiling scents in my association are of jasmine, lavender, Mediterranean honeysuckle, Mediterranean pine, basil, rosemary, lemon, orange, porcini and white truffle.  

Descriptions of scents are visceral and wonderful including white bread crust and black truffle combined with litchi.  I learned a wealth of information including the attributes and practical uses of oak lichen many years ago, the use of herbs and spices to enhance food, the definition of accord and chypre and the challenging collection of plants such as the "four o'clock flower" and the importance of terroir.  There are things here I had not heard of before including enfleurage.  

So, you need not be interested in perfume but if you are, this is for you.  If you are not, this is still for you if you gravitate to informative and topical books.  I associate scents with cooking and baking; the descriptions here are inspirational (vanilla, lavender, long pepper, cardamom, nutmeg...).

My sincere thank you to MIT Press and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this wonderful book.  After this I will be even more mindful of scents and where they come from.
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This was an interesting historical lesson of perfume and the sense of smell. I liked the breakdown of perfume composition and certain smells. A little dry at parts but interesting for anyone who finds a spark of delight in perfume.
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This book is a case in point of me being way too literal minded. Jean-Claude Ellena is clearly a subtle and sophisticated man of the world while I am but a simple rube. With the title containing the word  “Atlas” I had been expecting a geographic presentation. Some maps. And lots of discourse about each location, and not just the vegetal retrieved there. And maybe photos of the plants found at each location. And the people and geography. I am always particularly interested in the supply chain and a proponent of the “think global, act local” ideology that is good for both the planet and for us people; besides the local environmental impact, I would love to have read how the euros get spread around—the local economic impact. 

Instead, this thin volume is organized by the parts of plants used to make perfume: roots, leafs, flowers, and so forth. Each essay is interleaved with fantastic hand-drawn images in shapes and colors evocative of the fragrances described. There is a brief mention of where each vegetal is primarily sourced—but not enough details to warrant the monicker “atlas.”

I particularly enjoyed reading about the author’s youth and would love to read more about his life. 

Thank you NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my feedback.
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I really wanted to take a look at t his book because I thought a friend of mine would really enjoy all that it has to offer. I was not disappointed and will be recommending it to her as soon as it's out for publication.
It is full of history, quotes, stories and tantalising aromas that are described so well that you can literally feel it in the air.
It's not the type of book I would normally take the time to read as the aromas from plants and flowers actually upset allergies I live with, however, I am glad I took the time to visit this book because I found it really interesting and felt that it took me on a journey across the world and gaining an understanding of almost poetic information about Perfumed Botany.
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I would like to thank you NetGalley and the author for giving me the opportunity to read this book prior to printing.
 At first glance, this book is visually appealing, the cover, and layout within the book are wonderful. It was a simple and enjoyable read, I finished it within an hour. I found it fairly informative, and I really enjoyed how the author incorporated historical information with each plant species.

There was only one this I really didn't care for and this is my mistake, but I was assuming that it was a book filled with botany perfume recipes, so I was slightly let down when I didn't see any.
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Perfumed botany. A phrase that conjures up the magic, beauty, elegance and wonders of flowers that smell heavenly! That’s partly why this book appealed to me, and I was not disappointed.

I enjoyed the history and stories, some from the author’s own experiences, and just getting to know about the plants and the perfumes they make possible. They made me want to visit the places with fields and fields of colours and scents.

The art is not too bad, but I would have loved to see more traditional floral arts, preferably in watercolor.
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Scent is the most evocative, the most powerful of the senses. A whiff of perfume, clean laundry, freshly mown grass, can swiftly transport us back to a place we have all but forgotten. In this book, readers will be taken around the world to meet some of the well known and not so well known botanical ingredients used by perfumers to create an incredible, unforgettable fragrance. For a perfume lover like me, this was an amazing journey and a look inside the world of real alchemy.
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