Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Author: Patrick Suskind

Published by: Vintage Books (1986)

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born unwanted, non-smelling, and with the sense of smell a perfumer would die for. Bouncing from orphanage to tannery, Grenouille learns how to use his acute sense of smell to make perfume at a young age. He becomes the apprentice of Baldini, a hack of a perfumer, and learns the procedures to mix scents. After almost dying, he comes out alive and moves forward – living in a cave for seven years. When he re-emerges, he is taken in by a mad scientist then works at another perfume shop where he creates scents for himself and creates the best scent in the world – to be loved – which proves to be too much at the end.

If anything, this story makes the reader aware of his/her scent and ability to smell. Although not as extremely sensitive is Grenouille, the reader starts to smell others, people, food, and anything with a scent (even a doorknob!). The author did a fantastic job at describing scents that propelled the story along nicely.

The story starts well enough but can get inundated with description and detail (sometimes the narrator goes farther into a character’s life after Grenouille has left him or her) which can stop the pacing when all you want to do is see what Grenouille does next!

Overall, a haunting novel (also a movie!) that is not to be missed.

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