The Perfume Garden 4


Against everybody’s advice, Emma decides to move to Valencia.

The house has no electricity, water or even furniture, and the first night she even has to sleep on the kitchen floor. The first people she comes into contact is Fidel, the estate agent who also has his doubts about Emma running the house, and he even tells her that people think the house is either haunted or cursed. The second person is Aziz, a young  Moroccan flower street vendor. It is to this man who she proposes a plan, to use the house garage to open a flower shop which they are going to call “The Perfume Garden”. I find this decision a bit rash, especially as Emma doesn’t know Aziz from Adam, so she is putting herself in a vulnerable position.

I am also wary about the portrait of Spain and Spanish people at present time in the book. The only Spanish person Emma meets is Fidel and he comes across as a chauvinistic racist. I guess that the author doesn’t mean to imply that this man is the representation of Spaniards, and he would have had these characteristics even if he had been another nationality. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not usually satisfied when a foreign author sets their novel in Spain as I can’t really identify that portrait with my country. It can be my fault as well because I try to identify the character’s features as those representing a nation, and it doesn’t have to be so. I have to admit that there are more than a few men in Spain that are chauvinistic and there are also racists around, but that doesn’t represent national characteristics. I think Spain has changed a lot over the years, and we are a modern nation, but with many flaws, I can’t deny that.

As for the flashbacks in the past, Freya is working hard. She and Tom Henderson are in love, but Tom is about to go back to Canada and has asked her to go with him. Freya is torn about what to do. She loves Tom, but she feels she has to stay in Spain to help. I imagine that she will stay. Does that mean that Tom leaves and Freya never hears from him again? Or maybe something happens to him before he can leave? And was Liberty Tom’s daughter? Or is my theory about Rosa and Freya valid?

And Charles is still in Madrid. He has met the famous photographer Frank Cappa and his girlfriend Gerda Taro, who Charles is totally besotted with.  I am curious about this subplot, especially as I’ve found out that Gerda Taro and Frank Cappa were real people and not just characters in the novel. Charles also comes across some other important people at the time like Ernest Hemingway.


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