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

perfume story of a murderer book cover

SYNOPSIS: 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. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5Recently I watched the movie for this and I enjoyed it immensely. I was interested to see that it was based on a book, and Abbi finally twisted my arm to get started on this one. The book and the movie are similar and yet totally different, which actually works. I found Grenouille to be a person of zero potential pity in the novel – he was a pure psychopath, cunning and conniving, and he knew what he was doing was wrong. He sets your teeth on edge, and is just a nasty character all round. I was surprised to see that the book was a translated works, so I was a little nervous when setting out to read this, but let me tell you, a great job has been done with the translation. It never comes across like that – usually a translated book can be stiff, or lose a lot of what the author is trying to convey. I enjoyed the writing style a lot. Something that was strange for me, however, is that for such a short book, it felt like it took an eternity to finish, though that might have been due to the emotional week we had. It just felt like you were reading, but never really getting anywhere. While I liked Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, I was never really reeled in and absolutely, without a doubt, hooked. It is engaging, yes, but it is not the most engrossing novel I have ever read. It is sharp, and there is some strange humour throughout, which I always have a good time with, and it was written quite well. While I enjoyed this quite a bit, I (shockingly) appreciated the movie more. Overall, definitely worth the read, especially if you liked the movie!

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