Welcome to Weekly Wonder! A weekly series in which we seek to introduce you to books that belong in your TBRs.
This week’s Wonder is-
SO, WHAT’S UP WITH THE STORY?
Set in eighteenth-century France, Perfume is the story of a man named Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. Born with an inhumanly strong sense of smell, Grenouille was an ugly boy abandoned at birth. His uncanny olfactory powers disturb all those he meets. Soon, he begins harnessing the capabilities of his nose to distill the purest scents and create the most complex perfumes. He realises that he can control humans with scent and rule the world with ease.
A GLIMPSE BETWEEN THE PAGES
“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”
“He realized that all his life he had been a nobody to everyone. What he now felt was the fear of his own oblivion. It was as though he did not exist.”“This scent had a freshness, but not the freshness of limes or pomegranates, not the freshness of myrrh or cinnamon bark or curly mint or birch or camphor or pine needles, not that of a May rain or a frosty wind or of well water… and at the same time it had warmth, but not as bergamot, cypress, or musk has, or jasmine or daffodils, not as rosewood has or iris… This scent was a blend of both, of evanescence and substance, not a blend, but a unity, although slight and frail as well, and yet solid and sustaining, like a piece of thin, shimmering silk… and yet again not like silk, but like pastry soaked in honey-sweet milk – and try as he would he couldn’t fit those two together: milk and silk! This scent was inconceivable, indescribable, could not be categorized in any way – it really ought not to exist at all. And yet there it was as plain and splendid as day.”
“For people could close their eyes to greatness, to horrors, to beauty, and their ears to melodies or deceiving words. But they couldn’t escape scent. For scent was a brother of breath. Together with breath it entered human beings, who couldn’t defend themselves against it, not if they wanted to live. And scent entered into their very core, went directly to their hearts, and decided for good and all between affection and contempt, disgust and lust, love and hate. He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men.”
“He succeeded in being considered totally uninteresting. People left him alone. And that was all he wanted.”
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT
- Intense, graphic, vivid descriptions of scent. Süskind’s use of imagery is both skillful and fitting.
- Perfume is a book that doesn’t truly fit one particular genre. Is it historical fiction? Mystery? Horror? Magic Realism? It’s a bit of all and everything.
- I seem to have a penchant for novels with disturbing themes and climaxes. If you’re into similar stuff, Perfume will not disappoint you.
- The story is actually quite engaging and is easy to read. The author’s style is simple, flowing, and very alienated from the plot.
- Perfume is quite gory. Not recommended for the fainthearted.
Did you like the review? I’d love to hear your opinion.
Until next week.