Fragrance X
First in Fragrance
My Photo
Location: New York, NY
© Copyright 2005-2011 Perfume-Smellin' Things
All rights reserved
Custom Search

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy and L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain

The Forsyte Saga is the sequence of novels, which chronicles the lives of three generations of a large, upper-middle-class family at the turn of the century. The Forsytes are tenaciously clannish and anxious to increase their wealth. At the core of the story is the relationship between Soames Forsyte and his wife Irene. Soames is madly in love with Irene and, true Forsyte that he is, sees her as a form of property. Irene does not love Soames and is deeply unhappy; she falls in love with a young architect, Soames’s prosecution of the said architect leads to the latter’s death in a traffic accident in London. The other novels of the saga trace the subsequent divorce of Soames and Irene, the second marriages they make, and the eventual romantic entanglements of their children. If all this sounds like a soap-opera to you, it really isn't, this is a thoughtful, often humorous book that used to be filed under the "social realism" category during my Soviet childhood.
L’Heure Bleue. “The gods had given Irene dark brown eyes and golden hair, that strange combination, provocative of men's glances, which is said to be the mark of a weak character. And the full, soft pallor of her neck and shoulders, above a gold-coloured frock, gave to her personality an alluring strangeness. … She was ever silent, passive, gracefully averse.” What perfume can be more fitting for a woman like that (and consequently for the book that is centered around that woman) than an infinitely soft and feminine L’Heure Bleue. Rhetoric question, really.

L'Heure Bleue is a “very Guerlain” fragrance, with that dark, whispery, powdery undertone, and reminds me both of Mitsouko and Shalimar, especially of Mitsouko, with which it shares the same oleaginous, balsamic quality, however L’Heure Bleue is a much gentler scent. It has the sotto voce quality that I adore in perfumes, it is distinct yet soft. The notes of rose, iris, jasmine, vanilla and musk come together to form this intimate, refined and sensual perfume.
Even though I know from the book, that Irene wore “gardenias”, when I read the following passage, I cannot help thinking of her wearing L’Heure Bleue :

“Soames went to the drawing-room presently, and peered at her through the window. Out in the shadow of the Japanese sunshade she was sitting very still, the lace on her white shoulders stirring with the soft rise and fall of her bosom. But about this silent creature sitting there so motionless, in the dark, there seemed a warmth, a hidden fervour of feeling, as if the whole of her being had been stirred, and some change were taking place in its very depths.

He stole back to the dining-room unnoticed.”

* Paintings – Mariage de Convenance by Sir William Quiller Orchardson, Glasgow City Art Gallery and Les Adieux by James Tissot, Bristol City Art Gallery


Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Love the novels, and enjoyed the PBS series although it was a bit stuffier than the per usual with PBS. Have to admit that L'Heure Bleue doesn't suit me :-(

9:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

R., are you talking about the first black and white series? I haven't seen those. But I saw one episode of a new version (UK) and was extremely disappointed with what they did to the plot and the casting was horrible, especially where Irene is concerned. Arrrgh. Must stop now ...I can go on forever on this topic :-)

9:58 AM EDT  
Blogger cjblue said...

I'm thrilled to have found (and linked to) your blog! What a wonderful marriage of literature, fragrance and art. You really take it to the next level. I look forward to reading back. Thanks!

10:12 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you so much! May I link to yours? Marina

10:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am so glad you agree. I felt literally hurt when I saw the casting. I thought Soames was great though I must say. But Irene...It's repeated many times in that she had thsi hair the color of autumnal leaves, I mean the woman is at the very core of the book, couldn't they make more of an effort? It's like casting Scarlett O'Hara and making her a blonde or something. OK, I am done ranting. :-D

10:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Exactly! *high five* They should hired us to do the casting for them. Bah!

12:21 PM EDT  
Blogger katiedid said...

I have to chime in here... Irene was horribly cast. Gina McKee is fine actress, but she shouldn't have been in that role. I mean, looks wise alone, she was wrong for the part. I guess I perceived Irene differently from the books as far as behavior and manner, too. I dunno... it just didn't fit together with the books at all. Well, insofar as I imagined it in my mind's eye, anyhow.

I think the guy who played Soames (I forget his name now, but I have seen him in other roles, and he's really great) was just perfect to me. That high strung manner struck all the right notes I thought.

I've yet to ever try L'Heure Bleue, so I can't share any experience with that I'm afraid!

6:16 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It almost makes me feel better, this universal agreement that Gina McKee was a BAD choice for the role. BAD!

10:55 AM EDT  
Blogger andy said...

Thank you for your post, that I've read with great pleasure. I posted about l'heure bleue (august 12th)myself and for me, this perfume is one of the top 20, for sure ranking in the first third. It is a masterpiece which hopefully will continue to thrive for a long, long time.

8:54 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Dear Andy, thank you! I stumbled upon your blog recently and haven't got to your post about L'Heure Bleue yet...will look for it now, you have such an incredible blog!

9:01 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you very much!
My problem with gardenias is...I have a problem with gardenias, don't like that note in perfume, so I wanted my favorite heroine to wear something I like :-D

9:30 AM EDT  
Blogger YellerKitty said...

What a delight-filled site! I am thrilled to find it and must put it in my 'visit often' list. I have absolutely adored L'Heure Bleue for over 45 years, since my very early teen years. I'm a total fragrance dilettante, but I always come back to L'Heure Bleue. The scent of it can lift me from the bleakest of moods and take me to the banks of the Seine at twilight, the 'blue hour', with Edith Piaf singing somewhere nearby, the sound mingling with the mist and the scent . . . sigh . . .

8:03 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

What a beautiful image, the Seine at twilight...

8:06 PM EST  
Anonymous Montrealer said...

This is going to date me, but I remember the first televised series (which was broadcast in Canada in the 70's) and the actress who played Irene was absolutely perfect for the role. She was Nyree Dawn Porter, originally from New Zealand, and she gave a haunting, memorable performance as the tragic, beautiful Irene.
Based on that, I would say that L'Heure Bleue (one of my favourites) would be perfect for Irene. Gardenia would be too extroverted, too exuberant.
I once read an article on Parisian cab drivers' opinions on fragrances and one mentioned that L'Heure Bleue is THE fragrance for an intellectual, reserved, elegant blonde. So even though I would call Irene artistic rather than intellectual, I do see her wearing this.

5:09 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home