The Scent Trail - a new book that is the dream journey for every natural perfumer

Imagine a book that is so attuned with your nose, your language, your desires, your obsession, that just an hour after opening it, reading random passages, you have to pick up the phone and call your perfumer friend 3000 miles away, in Ireland, near midnight her time, to rave about it and insist she gets on the 'net and order a copy for herself.

That is Celia Lyttelton's The Scent Trail. I saw the cover online, read a tiny bit, and just had to have it. If you are at all interested in natural aromatics, you will want it too, and begin to devour every word the minute you get it, as I did.

Lyttelton was raised in Tuscany, and followed her mother, a famous archaeologist, on treks around the world. She, like all of us, has strong scent memories from childhood, some unique, as her grandmother's peppery-rose perfume, made for her in Egypt, and the formula brought to Paris so she could have it replicated. Bespoke before many of us knew bespoke (which I like to call couture or custom perfume.)

She writes of an incident in the 1980's where she and her mother were deep into Yemen looking to visit the frankincense and myrrh areas, and where guerrillas forced them to to leave, taking their jeep, having to embark on a long trek until some Bedouins rescued them.

A writer by trade, Lyttelton's ability to draw pictures with a minimum of words, where each word counts, and is a treasure, is to be lauded. In Chapter One she leaps right in to having a bespoke perfume created - co-created, actually, since she is such an active and learned participant. Then, she relates all of her travels to Grasse, Morocco, Isparta, Tuscany, Sri Lanka, India, Yemen and Socotra. Never hear of Socotra before? After this book, you will want to travel there.

Now excuse me, I'm taking a rare night off from work to dive deeply into the naturally-scented world of The Scent Trail.


  1. Hi Anya,
    I just found this blog post after looking up the book and author to recommend it to a friend. I just finished re-reading it for the second time. This book had to be right up there with 'Essence and Alchemy'. Not only does it make me want to run to my oils and start sniffing and blending, it really makes me want to travel, although I already feel like I'm there when I read it. You're right about Socotra-I'd never heard of it before this book, and now I want to go!
    Brian S.

  2. That book is great, Brian! Celia's in the Guild. I must get in touch with her again. I want a lead on some Tuscan orris root.



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