Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

June 16, 2010 at 22:18 | Posted in books | Leave a comment
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I suppose this is a kind of Gothic horror novel, but it’s very engaging and beautifully written. It is a dark tale of murder and obsession.

It is the story of Grenouille, an unloved, unwanted child born in the slums of eighteenth century Paris. Grenouille has no capacity for love or affection, but he does have an extraordinary nose, capable of discerning the most delicate of scents and analysing the most complex of odours. On the one hand he shuns human contact, but he also craves being accepted into the society that ignores or rejects him.

He sets out to use his talent in a most calculated way; to create a scent that will make people like him. He learns  the perfumers art in order to create the ‘perfect scent’ – a scent he finds one day and falls in love with. It is the scent of a beautiful, nubile young girl. As he goes about capturing and recreating this scent, the people he is involved with come to a miserable end – and ultimately he kills many innocent girls in his attempt to trap their scent.

The descriptions of various scents are beautifully written, and really evoke a whole world of smell that we are perhaps inured to. This is a very strange book in which Patrick Süskind takes the reader on a fantastical journey – well worth reading.

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