An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind’s classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man’s indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.
In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift-an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and frest-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brillance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.
Translated from the German by John E. Woods.
I read good things about this book, it was even recommended by friends. For the first few chapters I was intrigued, the descriptions were lush and the scents assailed the senses, I could almost smell the stench of the city as described. Also, the description of Grenouille as a baby,
“It seemed to Terrier as if the child saw him with its nostrils, as if it were staring intently at him, . . . using it’s nose to devour something whole. The child seemed to be smelling right through his skin, into his innards.”
By the time I was halfway through the book, all this wordiness was beginning to tire me, the detailed descriptions of places and people, how they got where they were, why they were doing what they were doing and thinking about what they were going to do and their opinions in society in general was just too much. It was as if the author was so in love with words, he forgot what he was writing about.
Then the story went from slightly science fantastical to totally ridiculous and I ended the book feeling slightly disgusted, cheated and upset about the time I spent reading this book that I would never get back.
Challenges: RYOB 2009
2009 TBR Challenge #4