What if your past life wasn’t quite over?
In 1998, Alice Grier is a normal twenty-five-year old, but with a secret. She plays the piano, speaks perfect French, and mixes homemade perfume as a hobby. For her graduate work in history, she's researching the historical significance of St. Paul's most famous buildings, including its rehabbed Victorian homes, breweries and speakeasies, and its labyrinthine underground maze of sandstone caves and tunnels, all used by Prohibition gangsters, star-crossed lovers, and, of course, a lingering piano-playing ghost.
Rune Folkeson came to America in the 1920s as a child, a Swedish immigrant, facing life with an abusive father, a brother with secrets, and a seer mother. Rune's story is one of seeking the American Dream, with one extra caveat. He must avoid his mother's vision about him, which she's had, over and over, since the day he was born; Rune belly-crawling for his life through a darkened tunnel -- not unlike the ones below St. Paul's Swede Hollow neighborhood.
Alice's and Rune's stories can't intertwine; they're separated by space, by time, an ocean, nearly a century.
But then again, Alice does have a secret. She loves to make parfum, that specific clink-clank of the pipettes against the beakers, the subtle stinging smell of the perfumer's alcohol, the cool calming fragrance of the lavender buds when she would pluck them from their purple-gray stalks. You see, Alice knows how to mix scents from the before, when she lived in France, nearly a hundred years ago. In her previous life. But when Alice's discoveries at Swede Hollow begin to fade the line between past and present, superimposing her previous life on this one, here and now, Alice realizes there's more at stake than finding out what happened to the heartbroken lovers of her before.
As Alice's mystery unfolds, she realizes that somehow, some way, against all common sense, her before isn't over.