Book review: The Secret of Scent, Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell by Luca Turin was published in 2006 by Faber and Faber.

While this book is not newly published, it is a fresh arrival on my shelf from The Book Depository, thanks to a recommendation from Master of Wine Stephen Wong, who suggested it would be a fascinating read. He’s right.

Author Luca Turin lifts the lid on what makes the perfume industry tick and writes with the skill of a novelist rather than a man with a PhD in biophysics from the University of London. As chief technical officer of Flexitral, he used his theory of smell and aroma to design new fragrances, flavour molecules and to develop his own theory about how we smell what we smell, which is exactly what makes this book such a fascinating read.

He does relate aromas to wine, but this book takes a wider view of nature and human intervention. This particularly comes home to roost in his discussion of the fragile nature of natural aroma molecules, such as rose, when compared to the more stable artificially created aroma molecules.

I have yet to arrive at the link between memory and sex, the smell alphabet and how molecules are made, but these subjects, among others, add to the multi layered  intrigue of a book that is already proving to be a spell binding, science based and beautifully crafted read.

I am hooked and am sure that anyone with a genuine interest in aroma will be likewise.

The Secret of Scent is available online from The Book Depository.