Scent of Triumph is the story of Danielle Bretancourt, a talented young French perfumer with a flair for fashion and a natural olfactory gift. In the language of perfumery, she is a Nose, with the rare ability to recognize thousands of essences by memory. The story opens on the day England declares war on Germany, and Danielle and her family are caught in the midst of a raging disaster sweeping across Europe.
Her life takes a tragic turn when her husband and son are lost behind enemy lines. She spies for the French resistance, determined to find them, but is forced to flee Europe with fragments of her family. Destitute, she mines her talents to create a magnificent perfume that captures the hearts of Hollywood's top stars, then gambles again to win wealth and success as a couturier. Her intelligence and flair attracts the adoration of Jonathan Newell-Grey, of England's top shipping conglomerate, and Cameron Murphy, Hollywood's most charismatic star.
Danielle charts her course through devastating wartime losses and revenge; lustful lovers and loveless marriages; and valiant struggles to reunite her family. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, here is one woman's story of courage, spirit, and resilience.
Interview with the Author
Why did you want to become a writer?
As a child, I was an avid reader. Writers were my rock stars! Books were my passport to exotic locales and fascinating characters.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, Scent of Triumph is one woman’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.
What was the inspiration behind Scent of Triumph?
Scent of Triumph was initially inspired by my love of perfumery, but the main character quickly took charge and began building a business, despite her many setbacks. I was inspired by female entrepreneurs from the early part of the twentieth century, such as Elizabeth Arden, Coco Chanel, Madame Gres, Nina Ricci, Estee Lauder, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others in the beauty and fashion industries. Family is also vitally important in this story; Danielle’s love and devotion to her children is really the root of her ambition, as it is with many female entrepreneurs who wish to create a better life for themselves and their children. She is an ordinary woman, who achieves extraordinary things. Like any one of us can.
What can modern women learn from your protagonist, Danielle Bretancourt?
The story of Danielle Bretancourt is really the story of a woman’s journey on the entrepreneur’s path. It’s a story of creativity and innovation, and of courage of convictions. Since the story begins in 1939, I had to understand the challenges that faced women at that time, such as the lack of credit or borrowing power for women who wanted to start their own business, among others. While opportunities have improved for women around the world, there are still so many women who suffer from inequalities, lack of knowledge, poor access to capital, and cultural oppression.
For this story, I drew on memories from my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother – their memories of joy over gaining the right to vote, owning property in their name, and creating their own income. The challenges they faced and overcame inspired me to become an entrepreneur, and to help spread the word today about women’s entrepreneurial efforts as a positive economic force for change.
We love the romantic aspect of Scent of Triumph, so tell us, what is your favorite romantic scent?
When I was writing Scent of Triumph, I created a cast of characters and imagined, what fragrances they would wear? How would perfume add to their characterization? What would their choices reveal about them? I used fragrances to reveal a character’s personality, heritage, or psychological nature. For example, Tabac Blond, and Jicky were considered fairly avant-garde in the first part of the twentieth century, so I gave these fabulous vintage scents to two of the more extravagant characters in the books. Personally, I adore Mitsouko, so this one has a special passage in the book, too.
Where can we buy it at?
Scent of Triumph is now available on Amazon sites around the world in paperback and on Kindle. It’s also available at Barnes and Noble, and on www.bn.com for print and Nook. Ebooks are available for Kobo, Sony Reader, iPad, and other EPUB readers. Many other online booksellers offer it, and don’t forget to ask your independent bookstores to order it for you, too.
What are some of your favorite locales, objects, or activities that a reader might find in your books?
I often include my favorite locales. Paris, New York, Grasse, London, Hong Kong, and California are among my favorite places that I like to write about, and perfumery and fashion are twin passions. I’m also a strong advocate of the entrepreneurial path, especially for women.
If you were casting a movie for Scent of Triumph, who would you cast?
It’s open to interpretation, but here’s a start:
Danielle Bretancourt: Keira Knightley, Audrey Tatou, Emma Stone
Jonathan Newell-Grey: Chris Hemsworth
Max von Hoffman: Jude Law
Cameron Murphy: Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds
Marie Bretancourt: Meryl Streep, Juliette Binoche
Erica Evans: Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek
Who are your favorite authors and books?
A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford was an early inspiration. Also love Shanghai Girls by Lisa See and The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory. And who can forget Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, or War and Peace—the best Russian soap opera ever!
Is there a message you want readers to take from your books?
Hope, triumph over adversity, appreciation of other cultures, belief in your own abilities.
What can you tell us about your next book?
My next book is called Hostile Beauty. It’s well underway, and I’m really excited about it. Having a great deal of fun with it, creating lots of smart, stylish, sexy women. Can’t wait to share more soon!
Read an Excerpt:
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