Iris Turner has dedicated 17 years of her life to the civil service. Now she finds herself alone in the world and, with a growing sense of desperation, applies for a shorthand typist position in the South of France.
Speaking almost no French, she leaves her native London and embarks on her first journey abroad with trepidation. Her fears are soon realised when she finds her employer, the enigmatic Vivian Brooke, oddly secretive about the role Iris has risked so much to take up.
Iris is provided accommodation at Villa Rousseau, a small exclusive hotel Vivian runs for wealthy, and sometimes eccentric, aristocrats visiting the continent. It emerges that she will be working for Vivian's reclusive brother, Hammond Brooke, but he too is less than co-operative. Gradually gaining his trust, Iris is initiated into the mysterious world of perfume.
She falls in with a glamorous, bored Riviera set, who are far removed from her simple life but she soon begins to realise that nothing is quite as it seems. Beneath the glittering surface lie dark secrets. None more intriguing than those of her increasingly difficult and unpredictable employers.
She finds herself gradually entangled in a drama of deceit and betrayal that leads back a decade to the Second World War. Everything three generations have worked for is now at stake and it is up to Iris to bring the French perfumer's story to its final conclusion. In the tradition of The Little Paris Bookshop and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a captivating and evocative historical novel by the bestselling author of The Olive Sisters.
Amanda Hampson was determined to be a writer from an early age. Growing up in rural New Zealand, she moved to London in her twenties where she fell in love with British literature and developed a fascination for the complexities of British culture.
She has a particular interest in the themes of place, family and the meanings of home. Eventually settling in Australia, she now lives in Sydney's Northern Beaches.
Her bestselling debut novel, The Olive Sisters, was short-listed for the Grollo Ruzzene Foundation Prize for Writing about Italians in Australia at the 2006 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards and was followed in 2008 by Two for the Road.
The French Perfumer
Author: Amanda Hampson