Synopses & Reviews
A sudden love affair with fragrance leads to sensual awakening, self-transformation, and an unexpected homecoming
At thirty-six—earnest, bookish, terminally shopping averse—Alyssa Harad thinks she knows herself. Then one day she stumbles on a perfume review blog and, surprised by her seduction by such a girly extravagance, she reads in secret. But one trip to the mall and several dozen perfume samples later, she is happily obsessed with the seductive underworld of scent and the brilliant, quirky people she meets there. If only she could put off planning her wedding a little longer. . . .
Thus begins a life-changing journey that takes Harad from a private perfume laboratory in Austin, Texas, to the glamorous fragrance showrooms of New York City and a homecoming in Boise, Idaho, with the women who watched her grow up. With warmth and humor, Harad traces the way her unexpected passion helps her open new frontiers and reclaim traditions she had rejected. Full of lush description, this intimate memoir celebrates the many ways there are to come to our senses.
"The age of 36 was a watershed year for Harad: after earning her Ph.D. in English she found herself adrift, no longer wanting the busy life she'd created, longing to be a writer but unsure how to go about it. While avoiding work on a freelance project, she Web surfed to a perfume blog, and everything changed. She became hooked on the writers' paeans to scent, and although her attraction to perfume contrasted with how she saw herself ('a serious, Birkenstock-wearing feminist'), she was unable to resist first taking a nervous trip to the mall to smell a featured scent and, as her fascination grew, immersing herself in the real-world community of perfume devotees. She fulfills her new thirst for knowledge through travel and study; she joins a local perfume salon in Austin, Tex., ventures into the perfume sections of Bergdorf's and Barney's in Manhattan, and, no longer able to contain her enthusiasm, charms everyone with stories, recommendations, and delight at her perfume-themed bridal shower in Boise, Idaho. This memoir is lovely and evocative, as Harad becomes more comfortable with herself and her open appreciation for things, like perfume, that are about beauty and pleasure. An appendix will help converts stock their own perfume closets. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Honest and beautifully written—a nuanced exploration of femininity and pleasure through the enchanting world of fragrance
Alyssa Harad’s affair with scent begins in secret, late at night, by the glow of her computer screen when she stumbles on a blog devoted to perfume. Bookish and practical, and a stranger to beauty counters, she is surprised to find herself lured into a sensual underworld of quirky characters that changes her mind about much more than perfume. Candid, elegant, and full of lush description and humor, Coming to My Senses
takes readers from a private museum of rare essences in Austin, Texas, to the glamorous fragrance showrooms of Manhattan, and finally to a homecoming in Boise, Idaho, to prepare for Harad’s wedding. This deeply personal story reveals the intimate connections between scent, our senses, and the people we are and want to become.
About the Author
Alyssa Harad grew up in Boise, Idaho. She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard and a PhD in English from the University of Texas. Her writing has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine and the perfume blogs Now Smell This and Perfume-Smellin’ Things. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband.