Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Mermaid Chair and Carthusia

I recently finished reading (well, not really reading-but listening on my IPOD) The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. It was a sentimental journey about one woman's coming of age. The bulk of the book takes place on a small island off the coast of South Carolina.
A woman, Jessie Sullivan lives in another part of the country, but has to return to the small island where she grew up after her mother faces a health crisis.
There is a Monastery of Benedictine Monks on the tiny island. They have a wooden chair with Mermaids carved into it. The Mermaid Chair, as the title would hint, is a very important symbol in the book.

Now this is not a book review, so bear with me. Being a perfume lover, the first thing that I think of when I read about monks is usually Carthusia (the niche fragrance line with a beautiful history). It is one of my favorite lines, and I love the history.

Legend has it that in 1380, the Carthusain Monastery of St. Giacomo was taken unawares by the news of the arrival on Capri of the Queen Giavanna D' Angelo and so he made a flower arrangement wit the most beautiful flowers of the island. When the flowers were thrown away, the prior noticed that the water acquired a beautiful fragrance. That water became the first perfume of Capri.
The monks made the fragrances for years until more and more people found out about them, now they are manufactured by companies, but still with the precision of the Carthusian Monks.
There are some historical stories that rival the legend, but I find the legend to be more interesting.

The thing that struck me most about the book is the mermaid references. Mermaids were almost like the mascots of the monastery. I find this interesting because the logo of Carthusia looks very much like a mermaid with a tail made of floral and fana.
I have always thought the Carthusia ads with the mermaid were beautiful. Leave it to a perfume lover to find the perfume angle in everything. Maybe Sue Monk Kidd is a Carthusia lover, or maybe it is just strange conicidence, or maybe I am just a weirdo who is obsessed with perfume. I'll let you decide.

Some of the scents of Carthusia are:

Ligea La Sirena (my favorite)
Fiori di Capri
Aria di Capri

You can find Carthusia fragrances at Aedes, Barneys New York, and Takashimaya.

(photos from, and


Blogger Sand said...

Too cool! I hadn't heard of that book but love Carthusia fragrances. I've yet to cave on a bottle, perhaps this summer as they are so refreshing.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Parisjasmal said...

Hello Sand,

The book is an easy read. It is not life changing or anything, but entertaining in a mild way.

Carthusia fragrances are so beautiful.

5:10 AM  

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