Let me assure you that Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind is not a horror book, neither does it have any details of human dismemberments, tortures and other terrors. I recently read a discussion by a group of readers, who were prejudiced about the book and they believed that it is a true horror. Actually the novel can hardly be categorized, but one thing is sure if you start reading it you will not be able to put it down until the last page. The story is so captivating that you will read it without a stop.
The storyline barely needs a description. Patrick Süskind portrays the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, born in France during XVIII century. Jean-Baptiste has the ability to smell everything even the unique human fragrance. This helps him to escape the misery and the miserable dirty place of his childbirth and become one of the greatest perfumers in the world. Gifted (or not) with this talent Jean-Baptiste doesn’t have the only thing he really desires, his own fragrance. There is no greater misfortune for a man like him. Furthermore the absence of fragrance deprives him of individuality and steals away his humanity. Süskind unfolds the idea about the unique fragrance which empowers the person’s character and attractiveness. This theory is not new and actually is commercially exploited. While I was reading I remembered an old conversation with my ex-boyfriend who insisted that I liked him in the first place because he had used a perfume with pheromones, exactly like the perfume created by Grenouille. I don’t know if the theory of unique fragrance, which defines a personality of every human, is true. But the novel raises those kinds of questions and makes me think about why some people are more attractive than others. And maybe the answer is not in their appearance, but in their fragrance. It was very interesting to read how Jean-Baptiste creates his greatest perfume, made by human odours. A perfume that gives power and love – sinister and at the same time genius.
Although the reader is supposed to be disgusted by Grenouille, somehow this is impossible. I feel pity for him, because the only thing he ever wants, and can make him a human, is the one he can’t have. Patrick Süskind creates intriguing portrait, which fires your imagination.
The book has one more bonus with the detailed description of the creation of a perfume. I have only vague knowledge and the information was very interesting. Furthermore Süskind tells the story as you are there and can sense all the fragrances.
Even if you think that is not your book, think again. Start reading it and you will be consumed by the story with the first pages and then you will not be able to put it down, just like me.