Lisa here–and I’m thrilled to welcome back the ever-lovely and talented Angela M. Sanders, author of several fabulous mystery series, including the upcoming Witch Way Librarian Mysteries (can’t wait!). She always has interesting stories to share from her glamorous life, and here is one from her latest trip to Paris…
Scents of Adventure
When I bought the $4 bottle of estate sale perfume one rainy Sunday years ago, I had no idea it would lead to this. Yet, here I was in front of the train station in Cannes, France, waiting for a stranger.
I squinted against the August sun and searched the tow of taxis. The stranger—Beverly—had told me she’d meet me out front. Had I made a huge mistake in coming to see her? Maybe we wouldn’t get along. Heck, maybe she wouldn’t even show up.
“Angela!” I heard behind me. “I knew I’d recognize you.”
I turned and was enveloped in a warm American hug, and my nervousness melted instantly. I felt I’d discovered a long lost aunt—an aunt who’d invited me stay in her fabulous Provençal home, that is.
Let me start at the beginning. Almost nine years ago, my author friend Lisa Alber and I impulsively stopped at an estate sale. Except for a few odd leftovers (including a complete Shriners outfit, believe it or not), the sale was pretty well cleaned out. We were just about to leave when I saw a quarter-ounce bottle of vintage Lucien Lelong Indiscret extrait near the cash register. Indiscret hasn’t been made in extrait for decades. Besides writing mystery novels, I also write articles about perfume, so I snapped it up.
A few years later, I received an email from Beverly, who’d seen my review of Indiscret. She said her mother had worn Indiscret but had died in the early 1960s when Beverly was a teenager. She wondered if I’d be willing to send her a sample so she could see if it would bring back memories.
I admit, I hesitated. The perfume was lovely—woody, spicy, and full of depth—but what choice did I have? It was this stranger’s mother’s scent. She absolutely needed to smell it again. I sent her the bottle.
We struck up a brief email conversation, and she invited me to visit her at her vacation home in France. Finally, this year I took her up on it. Beverly and I hit it off. I’m being discrete about her identity, but she’s well known in her field. Despite being on a first-name basis with a number of celebrities, she, like me, hails from a working class background, so I felt right at home.
We spent the next five days zipping through the landscapes of To Catch a Thief, dining on the astonishingly blue Mediterranean with yachts as large as mansions anchored in the distance, walking Grasse’s winding streets, and biting into the best roast chicken with tapenade ever in the town square. I met the daughter of a former MI-5 chief, wandered a Rothschild mansion, and watched magpies flit through the olive trees as I floated in the swimming pool.
Life is about experiences, right? Of all people, writers know this. A writer is someone who gets off a bus with a story—observations about the girl with the pointy green eyebrows or the man picking lint off his sweater or the woman with a basket overflowing with persimmons—when the other riders are simply happy to be done with the ride. Life can take you to some crazy and wonderful places if you’re open to it.
What amazing nights those were, sitting on Beverly’s terrace, drinking rosé, and talking about life. Below us, Valbonne’s lights sparkled like fallen diamonds. Above us hung the constellations, among them my lucky star. Your lucky star was there, too.
Angela M. Sanders writes the Joanna Hayworth Vintage Clothing Mysteries and the Booster Club Capers. As Clover Tate, she wrote the Kite Shop Mysteries. Angela has two cats—one of whom is black, of course—and a witch’s freckle in her left eye. To learn more about Angela and her books, please visit her website AngelaMSanders.com.
Readers, do you have a favorite perfume (or scent)? Is there one that has particular meaning for you? Let us know in the comments!