Beauty writer and book nerd Viola Levy chooses a different scent for each of her favourite characters in literature …
With The Great Gatsby soon to be hitting our screens, my renewed fascination with The Roaring Twenties has led to me frequently spritzing on one of my favourite Penhaligon’s scents Juniper Sling. One sniff of its warm notes of cinnamon, juniper berry and cardamom given a zesty kick with black pepper and immediately I can imagine flapper girl Daisy Buchanan at one of Gatsby’s wild parties, draped in diamonds, a gin martini in hand. As each Penhaligon’s scent seems to have a personality of its own, I realised there were several other famous literary characters I could match a few of them to…
Ellenisia – This cheery, feminine scent would be a perfect fit for Cassandra Mortmain, the heroine of I Capture the Castle. Set in the 1930s, the novel is told via Cassandra’s diary about life with her eccentric family who live in gentile poverty in an old English castle. An uplifting concoction of mandarin, violet, jasmine and tuberose, it’s a scent that never fails to lift the spirits, much like spending time with narrator Cassandra – as anyone who has read the book will attest.
Lily of the Valley –Another 1930′s heroine, Fanny Wincham is the narrator of Nancy Mitford’s famous novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate (and later Don’t Tell Alfred). The antithesis of her absent and frivolous mother (known as ‘The Bolter’ for her numerous husbands), Fanny is the most stable and dependable of characters and a caring, loyal friend to the novels’ rebellious and unstable heroines Linda Radlett and Polly Hampton. Like Fanny, Lily of the Valley seems to typify a sweet and unassuming English young lady, with its soft, warm bouquet of jasmine, ylang ylang and rose.
Endymion – A resolutely masculine scent with rich notes of leather and spices, no one is better suited to wearing Endymion than Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester. Charismatic, brooding and shrouded in mystery, Rochester manages to win the heart of the intelligent yet naive Jane, who works in his household as a governess. Being well-travelled, he has a touch of the exotic about him, much like Endymion whose dark heart is brightened by dashes of mandarin and lavender.
Bluebell –In The Virgin Suicides author Jeffrey Eugenides doesn’t feel the need to explain the actions of its main characters, the five Lisbon sisters. Instead they haunt the novel like ghosts, as the horrific story of their lives is played out like a Greek tragedy. 14-year-old Lux Lisbon is the book’s most iconic character- beautiful, seductive and rebellious, yet she also seems to inhabit a childlike dream world along with the rest of her sisters. I think the pretty Bluebell (created in the 70s, the decade in which the book is set) encapsulates Lux perfectly, with its baby blue coloured liquid, with notes of sweet intoxicating citrus, softened by a delicate floral heart.
Viola Levy is a freelance beauty writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter @violalevy