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Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Book Review: Perfume by Patrick Suskind

The story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, who was born without his own scent but with a heightened sense of smell. Set in Paris in the late 1700s, Perfume tells the tale of his search for the perfect scent.


"For people could close their eyes to greatness, to horrors, to beauty, and their ears to melodies or deceiving words. But they couldn't escape scent."

Perfume has to be one of the most unique stories I've encountered, at times it is as equally beautiful as it is grim and disturbing. The story focuses on the life of Grenouille, right from his birth up until his later adult years. It's absolutely captivating and unique in that Suskind uses scent and smells as a way to explore so many different themes, such as power, obsession and the strong desire to obtain perfection. The character development of Grenouille is incredibly well-written, you can't help but feel sorry for him as he becomes quite a loner in his quest (he literally fucking lives under a mountain for a number of years, for gods sake!!). But then... he's also kinda creepy at times too. 

Don't go into this book expecting a fast-paced murder-mystery thriller - oh no, this book is so much more subtle in its execution. The story travels along at a relatively slow pace, but you will NEED to know what happens next as events unfold. Perfume reads like a classic, but without being incredibly verbose or dense. The writing is simply beautiful, one of those books where you feel like you want to constantly highlight every section.

The scientist in me was geeking out majorly over the different processes described in the production of perfumes, such as distillation etc. I am also a huge fan of perfumes in general, so I did find it really interesting to learn more about the process. How do you capture a scent? How do you bottle that scent? Those parts were really enjoyable to read.

That ending though... WHAT THE HECK WAS I READING? It was fucking off the wall! It felt like it came out of nowhere and initially I wasn't really on board... but when I thought about it and certain explanations were given I wasn't only on board, I was steering the goddamn ship! That ending is pretty crazy but makes perfect sense within the story.

Overall I highly recommend Perfume, particularly if you are looking for something a little different, a little dark, and a completely unique reading experience.

4 stars.

Johann
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