Perfume

Perfume

The Story Of A Murderer

Book - 1986
Average Rating:
24
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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 fresh-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 brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.

Translated from the German by John E. Woods.

Publisher: New York : Knopf, 1986
ISBN: 9780375725845
9780375704437
9780307277763
9780394550848
0394550846
0307277763
Branch Call Number: SUSKI
Characteristics: 255 p

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a
anaemic
May 14, 2018

A very well written and descriptive book.
A bizarre story that I think has some things to say about humanity.
This book is a classic.

SkokieStaff_Steven Jan 15, 2018

“In Eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages.” So begins Patrick Suskind’s novel “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” which was first published in English in 1986. Why I waited over 30 years to read it I do not know, but I have done so now and can say the book is a masterpiece. The book’s plot—a freakish misfit murders young women to steal their scents—is but the scaffolding for rich descriptive passages that bring the sights, sounds, and, above all, the smells of Enlightenment France to vivid life. The prose is so fine that I am amazed the book was not written in English originally, and the tone can be called a mixture of deadpan and the blackest of black humor. I have to believe the author’s sensory descriptions inspired its publisher to make the book an appealing physical object with heavy paper, beveled edges, and an evocative type (Janson, according to a note). I will now file the book on a mental shelf for international bestsellers that fully deserve their success, along with Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose,” Jostein Gaarder’s “Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy,” Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “The Shadow of the Wind,” and Susanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.”

liljables Jul 23, 2017

How did it take me so long to read this novel?! Perfume is certainly not for everyone, but it ticked many boxes for me: it delivers gritty, unromantic historical fiction with a dash of magical realism and an utterly captivating anti-hero.

Perfume reminded me of a couple of other patently "not for everyone" novels. Firstly, it uses a narrative structure that I've only encountered once before, in Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White: the narrator often breaks the fourth wall and acknowledges that the book's readers are living in a more modern era than the story being told. For some reason, this delights me to no end. Secondly, the dispassionate delivery of this story about thoroughly unlikable characters reminded me of Donna Tartt's The Secret History. And finally, Grenouille's character could have inspired the main character of John Burnside's The Dumb House, a deeply troubling novel about a psychopath who conducts experiments on children to determine whether language is innate.

ezhurbin Mar 23, 2016

I find this book extremely overrated. The story has an interesting premise, but very quickly losses vitality and becomes too dragged out, especially in the exhaustive descriptions of perfume ingredients and steps withing a process. All characters are underdeveloped and ,frankly, boring. The protagonist/villain is devout of any personality and simply evil for the sake of being evil. There are other literally villains who are evil without reason (ex. Fantomas), but at least they have some qualities like terrifying, repulsive, elegant, sadistic, fascinating, etc. This villain is suppose to be monster and an evil murderer, but he is so flat and not notable, that he leaves no mark of his existence on a reader. The best word to describe this book is tiresome. I wish i didn't waste my time reading it!

l
LKBC_EPL
Oct 26, 2015

Historical fiction? Thriller? Magical realism? You may not be able to pin a genre on the tale of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, but you'll certainly enjoy the ride!

j
janwishart
Jun 17, 2015

Started well, but got too weird for me. I finished it, but wasn't interested in the last half of the book.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 07, 2014

A seductive and macabre tale of murder in 18th century Europe. A man's obsession with the scent of a woman takes him far beyond the boundaries of love and sanity. A masterpiece, artfully written and rich in historical detail.

KCLSLibsRecommend Apr 17, 2014

Set in 18th century France, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille uses his extraordinary sense of smell to become one of the greatest perfumers of all time. Smells are beautifully described and brought to life for the reader. Grenouille is however obsessed with only one thing- capturing the essence of certain desirable young women. Creepy and fascinating!

c
CarpeDeim
Feb 09, 2014

Whoever wrote this above description really hit the nail on the head. This book has hauntingly moved up the ranks to be one of my utmost favorite reads. The movie is good but the book... I simply cannot categorize it. It is so factally correct. Patrick Suskind is a literary genious. I not just read this book numerous times - I savoured every line.

TulsaTimeTraveler Feb 04, 2014

This book is fascinating, but also quite disturbing. The main character has an extremely heightened sense of smell, and he uses this ability to attempt to capture the scent of virginity. The book describes the fascinating world of Parisian perfumeries in great detail, but the character's mission and the ending of the book thoroughly creeped me out.

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