Searching for inspiration or a clever idea to use in this post, I idly googled "books to read in autumn". I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the crafty search engine seemed to have anticipated my frame of my mind and came up with an automated list that's quite fitting and brings up memories from many fall seasons and places. Here's a screenshot of the Google oracle. It's not that hard to scent it, isn't it?
*My favorite is the 1973 BBC miniseries.
The Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien, 1937). Long before Peter Jackson greedily butchered the story, there were earthy hobbits and dwarves, a fire-breathing dragon, and a wizard who probably hasn't bathed properly in a while. At first I was thinkin about all the patchouli and smoke I could find, but the newest Slumberhouse perfume, New Sibet, is animalic, warm, and has a weird ash note.
Rebecca ( Daphne du Maurier, 1938). "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." . These words are enough to make my heart beat faster. What would one wear to the costume ball in the great mansion? The firs Mrs. De Winter wore lipstick and smelled of white azaleas. The estate itself must get whiffs of sea air and salt. I'm tempted to layer half the inventory f a Jo Malone boutique, starting with Wood Sage & Sea Salt, Wild Bluebell, Vintage Gardenia, and Peony & Blush Suede. Then I'll have to add a drop of some vintage extrait from the 1920s, when the events of the book take place. What's better than the 1924 My Sin?
Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen, 1813). It is a truth universally acknowledged, that one doesn't need an excuse to reread Pride & Prejudice. I can't find any mentions of scents and smells in the novel, but you know that smelling salts, English lavender, green meadows, and a wild flower Elizabeth may have picked while strolling are all there. Eau de Lavande by Annick Goutal, Penhaligon's Sartorial for Mr. Darcy, and Penhaligon's classic Bluebell can all work.
Macbeth ( William Shakespeare, circa 1606). There's a lot more than that in the Bard's work, and personally I'd rather smell the three witches and their brew. However, "Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand" is all I can think about. Secretions Magnifiques (CSI Newark, according to my scent twin) is exactly that. Layer it with any Middle Eastern style sweet perfumes at your own risk.
The Cider House Rules (John Irving, 1985). remember reading it for the first time not long after the book was published, which means that I was a teenager. Maybe that's why the gut-wrenching memory is still so vivid to me. An apple orchard and the coast of Maine can be brought to life by two CB I Hate Perfume scents: Gathering Apples and Under the Arbor.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving, 1820). The Blond and I visited the real Sleepy Hollow cemetery and historic Tarrytown during the first fall after we moved here. The scents of the season, the colors, the pumpkins, the crisp fall air , they all defined this area for me ever since. There's the very obvious choice of Etat Libre d'Orange Like This, but also layering of Lutens' Rousse, Louve, and Clair de Musc or Un Bois Vanille for the brave.
Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy 1878). This is another one that puts a boulder in the pit of my stomach. I wish I could read this novel in Russian to get a better taste of it, which brings me to the smell of my mother's beautiful old edition of all Tolstoy's writing. But more than old books, there were the marshes, the snow, horses, lavish dinners, fur coats, smoke, and leather. Maybe if I piled all the Russian leather perfumes in existence, CB's In The Library, and Arquiste's Aleksandr (as it happens, Pushkin is my mother's favorite), I can get close enough. Then I'll just go and cry for poor Anna.
It's your turn: what do you consider a good reading for fall? Is there a scent that connect with it?
For other takes on fall and its scents please visit my friends at Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Now Smell This, and Perfume Posse.
Image: “Fall Library,” by Tom Gauld for The New Yorker, 2014