Set amidst the unforgettable sights and smells of 18th and 19th Century Paris, Elixir tells the story of Edouard Laugier and Auguste Laurent, the son of a perfumer and a fellow aspiring chemist, who met on the Left Bank while pursuing their passion for science. Spurned by the scientific establishment of the time, the pair ended up working out of Edouard's family perfume shop, Laugier pere et fils. By day they prepared the revitalizing elixirs and rejuvenating eaux it was famous for, but by night using the ingredients and techniques of the perfumery and the principles of alchemy, they pursued the secret of life itself.

Beautifully written, , Elixir reads like a novel, brimming with eccentric characters, experimental daring, and the romance of the Bohemian salon. It is also the story of a long-standing scientific puzzle. and the struggle to gain acceptance and recognition for a new way of thinking about the building blocks of living matter which went on long after those who discovered it were both dead. Yet it is also a story of hope and determination. For while the scientific establishment ignored, and even ridiculed their work at the time, teen-aged lab assistant Louis Pasteur took it seriously and over the course of an exceptionally successful career, was able to show that not only were they correct, but that their work pointed to a deep, inexplicable asymmetry in the molecular arrangement of living things. This unexplained asymmetry remains one of science's great mysteries and an important avenue for examining the origins of life on Earth.