The book that I have chosen for this week’s aromatherapy book review is a bit like another aromatherapy book that I reviewed several months ago, Perfumes, Ungents and Hairstyles in Pompeii; neither book is strictly an aromatherapy book but I do think that they hold value for anyone interested in aromatherapy in a historical sense, particularly in relation to perfumes. Perfumes were traditionally made from plant extracts and oils, unlike many of today’s perfumes that use synthetic ingredients. So, this week I’m looking at A Scented Palace by Elisabeth De Feydeau.
About Elisabeth De Feydeau
Elisabeth De Feydeau is a French professor at the Versailles School of Perfumers and, according to the cover of this book, advises many of the great French perfume houses including Chanel and Guerlain. She has a PhD in the history of perfume from the Sorbonne University. A Scented Palace was translated into English by Jane Lizop.
Why A Scented Palace is of Interest to the Aromatherapist
A Scented Palace covers the history of the perfumer to one of France’s most well known queens, Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793). Jean-Louis Fargeon (1748 – 1806), following a family history of perfumers, managed to win the favor of Queen Marie Antoinette and exclusively designed perfumes for her for fourteen years. Fargeon’s perfumes for the queen were made from ingredients such as rose, violet, tuberose and opopanax. Lavender was a favorite ingredient for Marie Antoinette to use to fragrance her royal apartments and to add to her bath. Fargeon also made custom aromatic blends to help Marie Antoinette through her pregnancies. The queen’s attachment to her perfumes even delayed her flight from Paris, where she was ultimately executed.
Although A Scented Palace is also a history of both Jean-Louis Fargeon and Queen Marie Antoinette of France, it describes in detail many aromatic substances and recipes that were created for Marie Antoinette’s perfumes – and what she used them for. If you like history, France and perfumes, I would highly recommend this book as a fascinating read; it may not help you learn about aromatherapy in a practical sense, but it will certainly give you some history on the aromatic use of plants in perfumes!
A Scented Palace by Elisabeth De Feydeau is available from Amazon, priced at $22.00.