Not just a thriller writer
23 February 2011
Jane Weissman at the Library
28 February 2011

Champagne & Chanel No. 5


The Library is thrilled to welcome Tilar J. Mazzeo (pictured above). Tilar is the best-selling author of The Widow Clicquot, a biography of the woman behind the Veuve Clicquot champagne dynasty, as well as The Secret of Chanel No. 5.  We look forward to hosting her on March 2 at 7:30 and  hope to see you there! In this interview, we talk about how she got interested in champagne, her research of the famous perfume, and the best advice she ever received.

How did you first become interested in the Widow Clicquot?

I had just moved from the wine country in Oregon to a new job in the Midwest, and, since there wasn’t any local wine to enjoy, some girlfriends and I took up champagne as a hobby if truth be told. Veuve Clicquot was our favorite, and one day looking at the bottle I started wondering just who the Widow Clicquot was, and that was the beginning of my research and eventually the book on her story.

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Can you tell us a little about researching Chanel No. 5?

Researching the story of Chanel No. 5 was fascinating. Lots of the work took place in dusty archives, of course, and that wasn’t always riveting. But there was a lot of first-hand research that also went into the book—everything from a visit to the rose harvest in Grasse to talking with different perfumers in France and New York and even learning a bit about the technical aspects of perfume making at International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF).

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What is the best advice you have ever received?

Never travel with more luggage than you can carry for a 100 yards at a dead run.  :–)

Can you tell us a little about your journey towards publication?

I was very lucky. The story of the Widow Clicquot was just so dramatic and compelling that it got picked up for publication quickly. A good story matters hugely in the world of publishing.

What books are on your nightstand?

A detective novel by Peter Lovesey, the most recent New York Review of Books, and a new biography of Winston Churchill.

What’s next?

I am currently doing work on a new book on the history of the Hotel Ritz in Paris during the Occupation.  It’s not always cheerful reading, but it’s an amazing story, and I get to spend a lot of time in Paris, which is always an excellent thing.

To learn more about Tilar, click here. I leave you with a photo of her next subject, The Hotel Ritz.


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