Thursday, June 21, 2012

THE PERFUME GARDEN - a guest post by Kate Lord Brown

This story has been ten years in the writing. In 2000, we moved to Valencia in Spain, and settled in a small whitewashed house in the orange groves. My husband was training to be a pilot, and I had the chance to concentrate on writing full time. Well, I say ‘full time’ - my daughter was born in Valencia, and I wrote when she slept. It felt like full time after years of squeezing my writing in around a day job in London – I used to get up at 5.30am to write for an hour before getting ready for work, my keyboard balanced on my husband’s sock drawer in the corridor of our tiny flat.

In Valencia, I finally had peace, and space, and time. I fell in love with the place, pushing a pram through the orange trees, the scent of neroli on the warm breeze coming down from lavender mountains. While my husband studied, I explored the city, walking for miles with the baby. Valencia is known as Spain’s third city – tourists generally head to Madrid or Barcelona, but they are really missing something.

I wanted to know more about the history of the place we had made our home. Even young friends would clam up and quickly change the subject if you asked them about the Spanish Civil War. Valencia played a key part – it was the last place to fall to Franco’s forces. The more I researched the devastating history of the war, the more I understood the temptation to try and forget the past.

‘The Perfume Garden’ is filled with so much I loved about Spain, and everything I have learnt since talking to historians, and reading the accounts of people who lived through the war. It weaves together the contemporary storyline of a young mother building a new life there, and the tragic events her family experienced. It wasn’t easy living with the research for years – there were plenty of times when I wondered how I could face learning about yet another atrocity, or terrible battle, but I hope that this story is redemptive, and shines with the remarkable strength of the human spirit, and the extraordinary sacrifices ordinary people make for democracy and freedom.

 ‘The Perfume Garden’ by Kate Lord Brown is published by Atlantic on June 1st 2012


  1. Sounds like a completely fascinating place to live and to read about!

    Thanks for guest posting for us Kate.

  2. This is the first I've heard of this one. Love the cover and the story sounds rather good as well.

  3. Hi Marg - thank you. It was one of the happiest times of my life, and great to relive it writing 'The Perfume Garden'!

    Hi Diane - thank you. Hope you might enjoy the story - if you have Kindle, there's always the option to download a sample and give it a try!

    Thanks again, Ana, for inviting me to HT.

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