Tuesday, May 20, 2008

29. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

by Patrick Suskind

This was the May choice for my local book club; otherwise, I probably would not have chosen to read it. Nevertheless, it made a good book for discussion. The book was originally published in German in 1985. Set in France in the 1700s, it’s the story of a man born without any odor himself but with an incredible sense of smell.

He becomes an apprentice and eventually a journeyman perfumer, and the best part of the book are the descriptions of techniques of fragrance extractionn of that era, such as distillation, maceration, and enfluerage.

His quest to create the perfect scent (one that can influence human emotion) leads to murders and peculiar adventures (seven years spent alone in a cave, time as the subject of an odd scientist with strange theories). The ending of the book is very bizarre and rather gross.

I can’t really recommend this one, except possibly as a choice for a book club looking for unusual titles to discuss.

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