Reviews

‘Christine Poulson’s wonderful sense of place brings Cambridge to life. Cassie overcomes the problems facing her with wit and guile aplenty and ensures the reader’s empathy from first word to last . . . an enthralling and engaging read that underlines Christine’s burgeoning reputation as a crime novelist to watch.’ [Stage Fright]

- SHOTS MAGAZINE

A Proustian moment

Not long ago, with time to spare before a Eurotunnel crossing my daughter and I wandered into the perfume section of the duty-free shop. And what a stroll down memory lane it turned out to be. The story of my life was there. The first perfume that I associate with my mother is Estée Lauder’s Youth Dew which I remember her wearing when I was a teenager. It remained a favourite and was a great standby if I couldn’t think what to give her for birthday or Christmas. She also liked the packages of five or six tiny bottles of different perfumes that were handy for keeping in a handbag and I often picked those up for her at the duty-free coming back from holiday.
My own favourite perfume as a very young woman was Rive Gauche. I loved its smart blue, silver and black packaging and the intellectual connotations of the name: perhaps Simone de Beauvoir wore it, hanging out with Jean-Paul Sartre in Les Deux Magots!  Of course the naming of a scent is a powerful piece of marketing – but even knowing that, what magic there is in those names. A present of Miss Dior on my nineteenth birthday seemed so elegant and sophisicated. Later I loved the minimalist chic of Chanel No 5 and Chanel No 19.
There was – perhaps still is – a shop in York that sold discount perfume and my mother and I used to see what they had got when we met in York for the day. Nina Ricci’s L’air du Temps brings back memories of those days – and shopping for my wedding dress in Droopy and Brown just up the street.
After my mother died I kept her unfinished bottles of scent and they reminded her of her when I used them. They are long finished, alas.
Back to the Eurotunnel duty-free: ‘This was Grandma’s favourite perfume,’ I told my daughter, spraying on some Youth Dew from the tester. We sniffed it. ‘I remember,’ she said and so did I. For a moment I was back in my mother’s flat in Scarborough, sun streaming in through the windows. It’s been six years almost to the day, but it sometimes seems no time at all.

birthday books

Posted on Dec 22, 2008 in Chanel No 5, E. M. Delafield, Elvis | 2 Comments

I have a theory that glamourous women like to receive presents that suggest that they are secretly a bit of an intellectual: remember that that photo of Marilyn Monroe reading Heidigger (or whatever) with her specs perched on the end of her nose? Conversely a blue-stocking such as myself doesn’t want to appreciated purely for her towering intellect. So when it was my birthday last week, I very much appreciated Chanel No 5 from my husband, an elegant cardigan in a delicious shade of chocolate brown from my grown-up daughter, and a very pretty necklace from my son and daughter-in-law. However, my theory is somewhat exploded by the fact that I love to receive books as well (and as I recall, Marilyn wasn’t averse to a spot of Chanel No 5 either). So thank you to my old friend, Jonathan, for Richard Holmes’s THE AGE OF WONDER. which I have had my eye on ever since I read the excellent reviews, and to my writing buddy, Sue Hepworth, for E. M Delafield’s THE DIARY OF A PROVINCIAL LADY: a very appropriate choice, for Sue has a good claim to be regarded as the E. M. Delafield de nos jours. Check out out her wonderfully funny novels and her blog.
A very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to anyone who reads this. I’m off now to listen to Elvis’s Christmas Album while I finish wrapping my presents.