Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Perfume Garden - Kate Lord Brown - Author Guest Post - Blog Tour

I am delighted to welcome author Kate Lord Brown to my blog today!

If I Could Turn Back Time …
by Kate Lord Brown

As a writer you’re always trying to conjure that magical feeling that the characters in your novel had a life before the story – and that after ‘The End’ their life goes on. It’s the defining, linking characteristic between all great fictional characters, that sense that they have life – and that the novel has just caught them doing something really interesting. I always imagine that the events in the novel would be the things that they would talk about again and again over the following years, the moments that shape a life.

When I teach school workshops, I suggest the children think of characters as either flat or round. The flat characters are the ‘extras’ – like the unidentified postman delivering a letter which is going to change the heroes life. Round characters are fully formed, sentient – as a reader you feel you know them inside and out.

Looking at the idea for a story, you always want to choose the person who changes most. The protagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be heroic, or pleasant, but what happens in the novel has to change them. If you think of the classics – Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, they show that a novel is a crisis from beginning to end, and at that end Jane, Lizzie – and the reader – have learnt something.

Tuning in to a new story, it’s almost like overhearing your characters having a conversation, or watching a film of them as they go about their day to day lives – it probably sounds bonkers, but bear with meJ It’s not necessarily the characters who shout loudest, who are the pushiest, that turn out to be the focus of the final novel.

Liberty, from ‘The Perfume Garden’, and now ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ was a character like that. My early character notes for her are larger than life, vibrant. She was a force of nature – and yet in the final novel all that energy, and zest for living is channelled into the letters she leaves for Emma, and Emma’s memories of her mother. When my German editor asked me to write a prequel to ‘The Perfume Garden’ about Liberty, I jumped at the chance. Unlike real life, where you have to treasure every moment with your loved ones, and you don’t get the chance to ‘rewind’, with fiction you can.

Still, she surprised me – it’s one of the very best things about writing when your characters do that. Liberty turned out to be strong, and funny, flirtatious – and yes, a little scared, understandably. I loved being given the chance to bring her back to life, and I hope some of you had the chance yesterday to download ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ for free. It’s the first time I’ve written a prequel, and it’s been fun to experiment. I can absolutely see the appeal of fan fiction, and some of the recent novels that pick up where classics left off, or throw in some zombies.

Now, if you could write a prequel, or sequel to any book, which would it be ..?

Exciting news! 

Kate Lord Brown has written a short prequel to The Perfume Garden, THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER, and you can download it for free at:

Visit the other sites on the Virtual Book Tour for The Perfume Garden.

About the book

The Perfume Garden combines the gripping storytelling of Kate Morton with the evocative settings of Victoria Hislop to tell this sumptuous story of lost love and family secrets set between modern day Valencia and the Spanish Civil War. High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco’s forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled, the garden, laden with orange blossom, grown wild. Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed in her mother’s will, she has left her job as London’s leading perfumier to restore this dilapidated villa to its former glory. It is the perfect retreat: a wilderness redolent with strange and exotic scents, heavy with the colours and sounds of a foreign time. But for her grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed here during Spain’s devastating civil war, Emma’s new home evokes terrible memories. As the house begins to give up its secrets, Emma is drawn deeper into Freya’s story: one of crushed idealism, lost love, and families ripped apart by war. She soon realises it is one thing letting go of the past, but another when it won’t let go of you.

About the author

Kate grew up in the wild and beautiful Devon countryside. After studying philosophy at Durham University and art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, she worked as an international art consultant, curating collections for embassies and palaces in Europe and the Middle East. She is married to a pilot, and lives with her family in Qatar. Her debut novel ‘The Beauty Chorus’ was inspired by the many hours she spent on airfields in the UK, and the experiences of pilots in her family during WW2. Her second novel about the Spanish Civil War, ‘The Perfume Garden’, draws upon the years she lived in Spain, and will be published in paperback in April 2013 by Atlantic.

For more information please visit Kate’s website and blog. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest. You can also check out the Facebook and Pinterest page for The Perfume Garden.


  1. Having heard lots of things about this book It was good to read your thoughts. Interesting to have 'met' Kate as well, I enjoyed this guest post.

    1. Thanks very much for the kind comment, Tracy, and I'm glad you enjoyed this.


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