Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Diogenes (Germany), 1985
263 pages, 4 stars
ABOUT THE BOOK: “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 frest-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.” —Goodreads.com
If you want to read something that will thoroughly creep you out, THIS is the book. Don’t let the synopsis above fool you, Jean-Baptiste murders girls with a certain scent in order to capture that scent. The “ultimate perfume” is a combination of the scents of over 20 young women—leave it to a German author.
The writing is reminiscent of 19th century novels, so much so that I was surprised that this was written in 1985. It goes into the histories and futures of secondary characters, which I could have done without. But I thought the melodramatic prose was perfect for a story like this.
FASHION FRIDAY: My dear little victim, it’s the eve of your wedding, which your father has arranged to keep you safe from Jean-Baptiste. This white, lace sheath dress will work for wedding attire, it is virginal and girly just like you.
Pair it with this chic coat that will not only keep you warm, but its bright color will highlight your beauty in the grey streets of 17th century Paris. No one will be able to resist your charms. They will think it’s your beauty, your kindness, but only Jean-Baptiste knows that your secret lies in your scent.
These deep red gloves are the color of the blood you spill to obtain your ultimate perfume. Usually you are able to hide them from the world, but when something is done in haste, in desperation, you get sloppy.
These necklaces hold the two things that qualify your existence: your black heart and your perfume—dab a tiny bit of it on your wrists, and the world will lose its mind.