Saturday, 19 March 2016

Review: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

Title: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Author: Patrick Süskind
Translated by: John E. Woods
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 272
Genres: Classics

Animal Farm

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.
Set within 18th century France, Perfume was a delight to read. The language used was so rich and descriptive, and it was fascinating to read about Grenouille's unique perspective of Paris as shaped by his extraordinary olfactory abilities. I am sure many cities in the 18th century just absolutely stank and Perfume does an amazing job of describing just how disgusting it could be.

Grenouille straight up gave me the creeps, he is just such a disconcerting character and not somebody I would want to meet in a dark alley that's for sure. The book did a great job of building up a sense of foreboding. Grenouille was an absolute psychopath with a bizarre obsession, even as a baby he creeped me out - but I was absolutely fascinated by him.

There is a lot of detail about perfumes and how they were made which I found to be so interesting. One of my favourite parts of the whole book was when Grenouille started to enter the amazing world of perfuming and like Grenouille, I was similarly full of wonder. There were plenty of parts in the book however, where it was unnecessarily slow or took some strange detours away from the main plot.

This book has one of the most shocking endings I have ever encountered. Such a horrific finale that I never could have predicted. Perfume was such a worthwhile read for me and I would heartily recommend it.


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