by Barbara Samuel

April 2006
ISBN: 0-345-46914-3
Reviewer Graphic Button Ballantine Books
Trade Paperback

It's bad enough that Nicole Bridges is still mourning the break-up of her marriage after her husband has a stereotypical affair. Then her beloved house is destroyed in a freak explosion and Nicole feels that not only has she lost her possessions, but a huge portion of her previously comfortable life. She is forced to move into an apartment complex known as "Splitsville" while she is waiting for an insurance settlement. She takes a job as a waitress, which she actually enjoys. Through both the apartment complex and work she makes new friends. This is a boost to her fragile ego,since most of her former friends seem to avoid her after they give her their castoff furniture to help her with her apartment.

Her new friends have issues, but help Nicole see that she must take risks if she is to move forward with her new life. One of the hardest adjustments is for Nicole to be without her daughter on a daily basis.

Nicole has been interested in perfumes and scents for years and it has been an expensive, but satisfying hobby in the past. She wonders if she can turn her passion into a profession, as she makes transitions in her life.

Another choice Nicole must make is whether to be more than friends with Niraj, an ex-Londoner, who is a sweet computer geek. He is a bit like a "fish out of water" in the Western United States, but is evaluating his own mid-life choices.

Even if you have never had to go through a divorce, you will still be able to relate to many of the universal themes of love and loneliness in this insightful book. The notes at the start of each chapter from "Nikki's Perfume Journal" are enlightening and add a unique touch to the story.

The first person narrative of the novel works well to help the reader see the emotional turmoil that Nicole experiences. All the characters are well drawn and authentic. There is plenty of passion mixed with poignancy.

Madame Mirabou's School of Love is another great addition to Ms. Samuel's body of work. I highly recommend this book as well as all the others on her back list.

Reviewed in November 2006 by Roberta.

Read more reviews of Barbara Samuel books.Click Here