Occasionally, I come across a novel that is so well-written, and so engaging, that it makes me angry. It makes me angry out of pure jealousy. I get annoyed at how amazing the author is at constructing characters and plot. And right now, I’m angry at Patrick Suskind for his 1985 novel, Perfume.
The protagonist, Grenouille, is tossed aside as a baby and grows up with a sense of smell stronger than any other human being. He becomes fascinated with different smells, and learns about making perfume with the once-great perfumer, Baldini. Soon, Grenouille is not satisfied with the hundreds of smells and perfumes that he has stored within his mind. He needs to attain the smell of a virgin, because it is the one smell that has evaded him thus far.
I must mention that Grenouille’s desire to capture the scent of a virgin doesn’t actually arise until about the 200th page. So, between pages 100 and 200, I kept asking myself ‘Where is this story going?’ But, once you hit the 200th page, the pace quickens and you can’t put the book down. You think you know how the story will end and then Suskind twists the plot and it ends a different way. The ending is actually quite gruesome, in a brilliantly-satisfying kind of way.
The novel is dark, romantic, tragic, and comedic all at the same time. The writing is seamless, and at times, the novel jumps forward a few years (at one point, seven), and yet Suskind has written the transition so smoothly that the reader isn’t jolted at all. I may be jealous of Suskind, but I’ll still recommend Perfume to anyone and everyone.
My Score: 10/10