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Romance novel set in France, California and Poland (“love is seldom what you expect”)

31st July 2015

SCENT OF TRIUMPH by Jan Moran, romance novel set in France, California and Poland.

“Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume”

An epic romance novel set in the early years of World War II. It is an expansive book that evolves from war torn France and Poland, across to California.

IMG_1421Danielle Bretancourt, a trained perfumer, is a heroine carved from the Angelina Jolie mold, she is gorgeous, resourceful, capable, creative and hugely talented. But nevertheless has her fair share of trauma along the way. At the beginning she is married to Max, she’s pregnant and they have left their son Nicky with Grandmother Sofia, in Poland – this country, of course, soon comes under siege and the two have to flee for their lives, especially as they have Jewish heritage.

One of the themes of the book is Danielle’s search for her son. Her life, whilst she searches, take her from Grasse to London and over to the West Coast of America where she eventually settles. From acute poverty, where she lives with her own mother Marie and her tiny daughter, she sets about creating her own perfumes and moves into fashion. Of course there is romance along the way, but it is coupled with adventure, trauma and poignant moments of reflection.

IMG_1337Each chapter opens with Danielle Bretancourt’s thoughts on perfume and smell, and her musings on the nature of the ingredients. The Moroccan rose is different to Bulgaria’s damascene rose, or that it takes 800,000 rose blossoms to make 1 Kilo of absolute concentrate. Jasmine, after whom Danielle’s little daughter is named, is the empress of the perfume palette.

It is the blend of stories and themes that make this such an enjoyable read, full of life’s adventures and romance. It is fabulous to learn, via fiction, little insights into the art of perfumery. And I leave you with words from the book: “A perfume is a symphony, the sum of the parts, where the whole is far greater than the individual“…

Tina for the TripFiction Team

And now over to Jan who has kindly agree to answer our questions:

TF:  The art of perfume is clearly in your blood, it is absolutely core to your book SCENT OF TRIUMPH. Can you tell us more about your connection with the perfume industry?

JM: SCENT OF TRIUMPH was indeed inspired by my love of perfumery, which was seeded by my mother and grandmother, who never left the house without perfume and lipstick. Fortunately, they had excellent taste and were generous with their knowledge.

During college I worked for a variety of perfume and cosmetic companies, including Yves St. Laurent. I wanted to share my love of perfumery with others, so I began extensive research. My first book, FABULOUS FRAGRANCES, was the result. It became a Rizzoli Books bestseller, and the basis for expanded work in the beauty industry.

After writing and distributing books for the beauty industry, I conceived and created a software program called Scentsa. The touch-screen program helped shoppers find fragrances, skincare, and cosmetics in stores such as Sephora, DFS, JCPenney, and Nordstrom. My team and I translated Scentsa into five languages and displayed it at retailers in eight countries (United States, France, Canada, Hong Kong, Denmark, Brazil, Abu Dhabi, and Mexico). The Fragrance Foundation awarded it a coveted FiFi Award for Technological Innovation. Several years later, the technology was sold to Sephora. The touch-screen programs are now exclusive to Sephora, and have been renamed FragranceIQ and SkinIQ.

My work inside the perfumery and skincare industry, particularly in Paris, continues to inspire my writing. I’m thankful to the beauty industry for the opportunity to have traveled and trained all over the world, and for all the wonderful friends I made.


The perfumer’s organ

TF:  What are your personal favourite perfumes? And what gives certain perfumes, like Jicky, Chanel No. 5, which you mention in the book, their staying power?

JM: While researching classic perfumes for another book, VINTAGE PERFUMES, I studied many perfumes that have remained popular for decades, including some that have passed the century mark. Besides continual marketing, what sets these perfumes apart is their unique point of view. They are highly original and have dedicated aficionados. In fact, nothing else quite compares. Vinatge perfumes such as Chanel No. 5, Joy, Shalimar, Mitsouko, Fracas, Narcisse Noir, and others were blended by the finest master perfumers, who were true artists. These perfumes often took years to create, unlike today. It’s a pleasure to try the classics, and I have more profiles of vintage perfumes on my blog.

When I was writing SCENT OF TRIUMPH, I created a cast of characters and imagined, what fragrances they would wear? How would perfume add to their characterization? What would their choices reveal about them? I used fragrances to reveal a character’s personality, heritage, or psychological nature. For example, Tabac Blond, and Jicky were considered fairly avant-garde in the first part of the twentieth century, so I gave these fabulous vintage scents to two of the more extravagant characters in the books. Personally, I adore Mitsouko, so this one has a special passage in the book, too.

As for modern favorites, I have to give special kudos to Ambre Narguilé, created by Jean-Claude Ellena for Hermès. It’s currently in the top of my fifty or so favorites.

TF:  You have set the book in the early years of WWII. What drew you in particular to that period?

JM: SCENT OF TRIUMPH was inspired in part by stories my mother and her friends had shared with me. My mother and father married during World War II; he was a pilot who ferried planes to and from Europe. St. Martin’s Press even included my mother’s 1940s-era photo in the front of the book (which was a wonderful surprise for her!). After hearing many harrowing and heartbreaking first-hand accounts of life during this war period, I gained enormous respect for the people who endured it. I felt compelled to bring their courage to life.

Through the years, I’d also discovered many stories of perfumers during World War II. For example, that of Robert Piguet (a Swiss designer), and Germaine Cellier (one of the few female perfumers of the time)… The Guerlain family (legendary perfumers whose French factory was bombed during the war and a son was killed in combat). Coco Chanel. And so many others…

TF: How did you carry out your research as there is history, period detail, perfume…?

JM: Painstakingly! For my historical works, I created an elaborate timeline for the story, and pegged myriad details against it. SCENT OF TRIUMPH was thoroughly fact-checked by several professionals. I researched news articles, personal accounts, troop movements, music, food, fashion, and much more. Fortunately, I already had extensive research on perfumery. Historical fiction and historical romance present unique challenges in world-building.

TF: The book has everything to make a top romantic read, with a sassy heroine, Danielle. She is hugely resourceful. How did you go about creating her character?

JM: For SCENT OF TRIUMPH, I began to imagine what might happen to a woman, an artistic perfumer, who became separated from her family the beginning of the war. What challenges might she face? How would she find and protect her family? Would she have to choose between them? And how would she grow as a result?

Family is vitally important in this story; Danielle’s love and devotion to her children is really the root of her ambition, as it is with many female entrepreneurs who wish to create a better life for themselves and their children. She is an ordinary woman who grows to achieve extraordinary things.

The story of Danielle Bretancourt also follows her entrepreneurial journey. It’s a story of creativity and innovation, and of courage of convictions. Since the story begins in 1939, I had to understand the challenges that faced women at that time, such as the lack of credit, poor access to capital, and cultural oppression for women who wanted to start their own business.

For this story, I drew on family memories from my mother and grandmother, as well as my great grandmother, who was French. They often recalled their joy over gaining the right to vote, owning property in their name, and creating their own income. The challenges they faced and overcame certainly inspired the character of Danielle Bretancourt and her story of courage, spirit, and resilience.

TF: You are very active on Social Media. What top tips can you give to others for successful interactions?

JM: Be real, be yourself. I’m highly engaged on Twitter, simply because I love to meet people from all over the world and share. I often have what I call Tea ‘n Twitter in the afternoons on @janmoran. I don’t have any strategy, I simply pop onto social media whenever I take a break from writing or business. Facebook, Instagram, and blogging are among my favorite ways of communicating on social media.

TF: What are you working on at the moment? And what is on your TBR pile of books?

JM: I love to stay busy. I just completed THE WINEMAKERS for St. Martin’s Press, which is a mother-daughter saga about how devastating family secrets can be. It’s set in the 1920s and 1950s, and takes place in Napa Valley, Montalcino, and Paris. I spent time with a friend who owns a winery in Napa, and loved tasting wine and learning about the early history of the wine industry in the United States. The history of the superb Brunello di Montalcino wines is also fascinating. THE WINEMAKERS debuts next spring, and is already available for preorder, so I’ll be blogging about my wine travels soon.

My contemporary series is called LOVE, CALIFORNIA (formerly Hostile Beauty), and is set in the beautiful industries of fashion, design, perfume, skincare, and others. My nomadic love of travel also inspires the books in this series. The main characters are friends who live in Beverly Hills, but each book takes one of the friends on a journey. The first three stories take readers to France, Spain, and Ireland. I’m currently working on ESSENCE, which has scenes set in Grasse and the south of France. The next two books will include London, Copenhagen, and more spots in California. The LOVE, CALIFORNIA series also features gutsy, determined heroines. They’re great fun to write.

What’s on my towering to-be-read list? Books from Harper Lee, Philippa Gregory, Alison Pataki, Kristin Hannah, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Jane Porter, and so many, many others.

A big thank you to Jan for talking to us. Lots of brilliant things to look forward to as readers!

You can follow Jan on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and via her blog

And come and join Team TripFiction on Social Media: TwitterFacebookPinterest and when we have some interesting photos, we can also be found over on Instagram too.



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