What was all the fuss about? I don’t get it.
When this book was first published, I was in kindergarten, so I wasn’t aware of its existence until a couple of years ago. Even people who didn’t like it agree that it is well written. The “protagonist” has been described by more than one member of BookCrazy as making their skin crawl. So out of curiosity, morbid and otherwise, I decided to check it out.
My first impression is a faint recall of Alexandre Dumas, pere, in the style and voice of the work which I greatly appreciated and thought appropriate for the eighteenth century French setting. An excellent touch if it was done on purpose, a happy coincidence if not.
Second, that Mr. Süskind goes to tremendous lengths in order to portray Grenouille as a loathsome parasite, worthy of nothing but disgust. An abomination. A conscienceless, subhuman creature of absolute evil. We are told this over and over and over again. Hit me in the head with it why don’t you?
When Grenouille repeats the word storax, committing it to memory, I got a flash of Gollum from Lord of the Rings hissing “My precious”. Also, something about the description of him when he finally comes out of the cave made me think of Beauty Smith in White Fang. I have no idea what or why. That’s just the impression I got.
There were portions of the novel that did leave me disconcerted, but nothing that made my skin crawl. It was just too overdone. A truly overwhelming odor. Perfume is an excellent book. The time and setting are especially well done. Unfortunately, I prefer a more subtle scent.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars