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Download The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the Worlds Most Famous Perfume, by Tilar J. Mazzeo Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (313 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Tilar J. Mazzeo Narrator: Liz de Nesnera Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Every minute, someone buys an Art Deco-inspired, amber-hued bottle of Chanel No. 5—to the tune of more than half a million bottles a year. Considering that nearly ninety years have passed since No. 5's creation, this statistic alone makes a compelling case for the perfume's stature as the world's most famous. However, its cultural impact might be even more staggering than its business success: Andy Warhol's silk-screened version of bottle helped to make its image iconic; Mitch Ryder's "Devil in a Blue Dress" famously wore it; and, when Marilyn Monroe was asked what she wore to bed, she replied, with more than a hint of flirtation: "Why, Chanel No. 5 of course." Adding to the perfume's prestige, some of the most glamorous actresses of our age, including Catherine Deneuve, Nicole Kidman, and Audrey Tautou, have been its official face.

We all know the story of Coco Chanel, but how much do we actually know about her signature perfume—a fragrance that has enjoyed remarkable success for nearly a century?

The Secret of Chanel No. 5 is the story of Tilar J. Mazzeo's far-ranging and often quixotic search to discover the answer—and of the fascinating detours into the history of perfume that come from asking the question: What is the secret behind No. 5's creation, iconic status, and extraordinary success? Does the secret rest, as some experts believe, in the celebrated jasmine fields that line the back roads of the south of France, or in the delicate, proprietary roses that Chanel grows in Grasse? Does Aubazine—the Cistercian convent and childhood home of Coco (then known as Gabrielle Bonheur) —hold the answer in its scrubbed cleanliness and austere architecture? Is it simply brilliant marketing, Madison Avenue style? Could it just be a simple matter of organic chemistry, the neurology of smell, and the inherent connections between scent and sex? Or does it all come back to a memorable moment during the Second World War when this one French perfume came to symbolize for a generation of soldiers and their girls back home all the luxury and romance that had been lost for so many and for so long?

Blending strong personal narrative with thoughtful research, The Secret of Chanel No. 5 takes the reader on a journey of discovery into the legend of this iconic perfume and, along the way, untangles something about our own relationship to luxury and sensual pleasure. Taking alternately historical, personal, scientific, and commercial approaches to solve the riddle of Chanel No. 5's unprecedented popularity, this is an intimate and engaging account of what it means to explore the multi-faceted nature of any cultural icon, and of the narrative power of luxury itself.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Mazzeo] explores interconnections between designer and perfume, teasing out the relationship with delicacy.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Engaging.” 

    Wall Street Journal 

  • “Who knew that such a tiny bottle housed so many secrets?” 

    Michael Tonello, author of Bringing Home the Birkin 

  • “Impeccable research and crafting make a seemingly narrow topic feel infinitely important.” 

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sarah Cooley | 1/31/2014

    " Kind of repetitive, but good for a light read. A much better book about perfume is "The Perfect Scent" by Chandler Burr. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Lexi | 1/12/2014

    " This book was surprisingly interesting. You would never believe the complicated history that has been weaved behind this perfume, and how much of an icon it has become in our culture today. I love learning about CoCo Chanel and her life and this book was just another interesting piece to the story! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Milli | 1/9/2014

    " My mother has a bottle of No. 5, and she always has. My grandmother wore it. It's a very historical perfume, and I'm glad I read this book to truly understand the beauty and magic behind it. The facts and backstory were very interesting, but the author has a tendency to jump around between the years. The history of Chanel No. 5 is a complicated one, indeed, with all of the people, events, and inspiration surrounding it. Sometimes I got a little lost reading it. But overall an entertaining read. I must admit I had to spray some on myself while reading, just to appreciate it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Angela | 1/7/2014

    " The book was good. The Perfume, better. "

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