Book Review: On The Scent Trail Around the World

Celia Lyttelton has a new travel narrative book out that follows what’s becoming a fairly familiar route – travel writer gets something, then travels to where it came from. But the twist on this is that what Lyttelton “gets” is a scent: a special perfume created exclusively for her, using scents that originate from many countries around the world, and this is the path that her book The Scent Trail follows.

51g0xqnqbjl_sl500_aa240_As she points out, “scent evokes memories”, and what better what to create a lasting memory of your travels than to be able to associate a particular scent with a particular place. Lyttelton started her career as a traveler young – her mother was an archaeologist and even as a child, Lyttelton accompanied her mother on some fairly hair-raising journeys. But this book is not based on archaeology, but a journey to find the origins of the scents used by a bespoke perfumer to create her personal scent.

The journey takes in such varied locations as France, Morocco, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Italy and Yemen, and along the way the reader learns not only about the customs of these countries and the lives of those involved in the scent trade, but also a lot of technical information about how perfumes are created – at times, perhaps a little too much for the average reader, although some of this is enclosed in pullout boxes that could be skipped over. Yet there are interesting facts to learn – like the fact that one component of some scents is derived from the vomit of sperm whales! On the whole, it’s definitely a sensually-described journey; an original idea and well carried out.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Bob Cox Photography