Beauty

We’ve paired this winter’s best books with the cosiest home scents

Posted by
Hanna Ibraheem
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Inspired by the notes of cosy home scents, four literary experts recommend a page-turner to match.

It’s cold, it’s dark and it’s probably raining outside, which means there was never a more acceptable time to grab your comfiest blanket and create a fragranced reading nook.

Once you’ve found your space, choose one of these books to cosy up with, and treat yourself to the home scent that it’s been paired with. We promise you won’t regret it. 

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The uplifting one

Sheree Milli, founder of feminist book club Ladies Lit Squad, pairs Molton Brown Vintage with Elderflower Candle, £42, with The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (£10.49, Fleet)

“When I first light the candle, the scent that wafts from the wick feel fresh and fizzy. But it soon settles into its base notes of vetiver and tonka bean, which smell wonderfully warm, comforting and familiar. The contrast between the light elderflower notes at the heart and the deep, comforting vetiver base notes reminds me of the conflicting emotions throughout Rebecca Makkai’s novel The Great Believers

This absolute whopper of a book took me weeks to read, but I enjoyed every one of its 432 pages. It spans decades, following a group of young gay men in 1980s Chicago who are friends, lovers and living their lives to the full. Some page are filled with the joy and reverie of youth, while there are other parts that deal with the Aids epidemic. This is cleverly intertwined with the mystery of a missing girl in modern day Paris, and Makkai deftly weaves the two seemingly unconnected plot lines right through to the epic climax, much like the opposing but ultimately complimentary scents in this (very chic) candle. 

With every turn of the page, you’ll grow to really care about the characters. It’s warm, touching and perfect to snuggle up with.”

The fresh one

Alison Flood, books reporter at The Guardian, pairs Rituals Private Collection Wild Fig Fragrance Sticks, £44.50, with Circe by Madeline Miller (£8.99, Bloomsbury)

“The warm but fresh scent of Rituals’ Wild Fig Fragrance Sticks transports me immediately to somewhere wild and hot and solitary, a little exotic but somehow also clean and outdoorsy. It’s the perfect background to one of my favourite books this year: Madeline Miller’s Circe, a retelling of the Greek myth of the witch woman on her lonely island.

Circe is banished by her father Helios, the sun, to the Greek island of Aiaia. Bursting with growth, redolent with vines and herbs, in Miller’s version this is a place where magical flowers grow and where Circe will find herself in the face of the powers that rage against her.

Wild figs and a wild woman – what’s not to like? And if you enjoy Miller’s reimagining of myths from a female perspective, then give Ursula Le Guin’s Lavinia and Pat Barker’s The Silence Of The Girls a go.” 

The smoky one

Sharmaine Lovegrove, founder of publisher Dialogue Books, pairs Tom Dixon Elements Fire Candle, £100, with American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (£13.99, Dialogue Books)

“This candle evokes a warm, strong, smoky and spicy aroma that is both intriguing and alluring, much like American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. Set during the Cold War between Burkina Faso and the United States, this original novel follows Marie Mitchell, a black, female spy, as she heads off on a mission to undermine the country’s revolutionary President Thomas Sankara. Marie falls in love with the dictator and finds herself in a situation where she has to choose between her family, her lover and her country. 

Like the candle, the book is potent, beguiling and stirring, and alongside the scent it will have you feeling as though you’ve landed in the stunning African landscape ready to take part in the mission alongside Marie.” 

The floral one

Francesca Brown, Stylist’s contributing books editor, pairs Floris Peony & Rose Room Fragrance, £25, with The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard (£8.99, Pan Macmillan)

“This is a very British scent. The rose notes evoke a heady, old-world glamour synonymous with the pre- and post-war era of debutantes and dances, while the peony, violet and ivy conjure up carefully tended gardens.

Many writers including Dodie Smith and Nancy Mitford have captured this time, but it’s The Light Years – the first in the five-book Cazalet Chronicles by the late, great Elizabeth Jane Howard – that’s the perfect fit for this opulent-yet-comforting fragrance. At the heart of the series is a line-up of unforgettable female characters held back by loveless marriages, unwanted (and wanted) children, closeted relationships, sexual abuse and a society that offers them no independent careers or dreams. 

They are deeply feminist books, but also a paean to a slice of British society where clothes come from couturiers, gin cocktails flow like water and when the family matriarch dies peacefully aged 90, her loving daughter places a rose in her hands – a fitting tribute to a generation forever gone.” 

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Photography: Rebecca Westcott 

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