Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

4.4 122
by Patrick Suskind

ISBN-10: 0307277763

ISBN-13: 2900307277762

Pub. Date: 11/07/2006

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind's classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man's indulgence in his greatest passion-his sense of smell-leads to murder.
In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift-an absolute sense of smell. As a boy…  See more details below


An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind's classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man's indulgence in his greatest passion-his sense of smell-leads to murder.
In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift-an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille's genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and frest-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the "ultimate perfume"-the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brillance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity.
Translated by John E. Woods
"A fable of crimial genius.... Remarkable."
--The New York Times

"Superb storytelling all the way...the climax is a savage shocker."
--The Plain Dealer
"An astonishing performance, a masterwork of artistic conception and execution. A totally gripping page-turner."
--The San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
New Edition

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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 122 reviews.
FocoProject More than 1 year ago
This is the fist book I have picked up from the thread of recommended reading at Eat Poo, and what a fantastic pick it was. Already I had heard from numerous pooers that the book was a good one, so I really had little debating to do. In fact the hardest decision was whether to pick this up first or ¿The Time Traveller¿s Wife¿ (I picked both up, when I was not able to make up my mind).

In a stroke of genius on the part of the author, this story unfolds tackling the most literally unexplored of our senses¿that is the sense of smell. From beginning to end, there is so many scents to gather in from this book, that you could nearly tire your nose at it. For the first time I found myself understanding a story or a setting or a character not so much by what they look like, or what they are wearing but rather by the way things smell.

Mr. Suskind does a fabulous job telling the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, born in 18th Century France with a superior sense of smell, but no actual scent of his own. Out-casted and ignored for reasons people around Grenouille can not understand, the child is slowly shaped into an individual that learns not to trust or count on anybody, hardening his heart and shaping himself to eventually become a king of his own empire¿the realm of the scent. Driven by his uncanny abilities, Grenouille sets out to create the world¿s most perfect smell and use it to his advantage.

What ensues is one of the most interesting, curious, strangest stories I have ever read, while also quite disturbing and morbidly erotic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't want to give away any of the story here, so I'll just say that this is one of the best books I have ever read. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy. You won't regret it!
Sicert More than 1 year ago
All you guys missed the point,....the only "crime" in this novel is the iconic need hidden in all our souls, be loved,... !!! Yes,...awesome metaphor,....nicely hidden by Peter Suskind,...remember how ugly Grenouille was,..rejected, never loved, understood,....etc ! The very first thing what he did was to make the scent which made him "invisible",....and his suffering, because of rejection by any other man, women, child,...stopped ! Than he comes with idea to make the scent which will turn the people to love him,.....and woala, happend,... but on the end very badly for him,.... if this need is enormous,..unnatural,...and same is happening with us too,...!! So, don't search for maniacs, horror,....crime,..these are only "instruments" to tell the remarkable story about need to be Loved !
A-Cane More than 1 year ago
I have read this book three times, both in English & Spanish. Both versions are wonderful. The details & descriptions transport you to every scene the author depicts in the most intrinsic way.
IMPetus More than 1 year ago
I would describe this as tasteful macabre. The prose is both fluid and florid, maintaining an edge of sophistication throughout, which in itself is quite impressive. The language is reflective of an elevated speaker, perhaps being simply the style of the time in which it was written, and the tone is very appropriate. The elements of suspense is handled masterfully and without a doubt one of the most accomplished works of mystery. I unfortunately discovered the great secret via a spoiler, but it remains nonetheless intelligent. Suskind has a penchant of describing the seemingly grotesque in an interesting fashion, so as to create a juxtaposition between the elegance of perfume and the ugliness of the human world. Highly recommended.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born in late 19th Century France to parents who is rejected by his parents and all who would otherwise want a little baby to nourish and cherish. The few who do encounter him as a baby note that he smells "evil," like an abomination, whatever that means; it turns out he literally has no smell to him, unlike other sweet babies. But Grenouille survives the rejection of a woman, priest and others to discover that his total way of appreciating the world is through the unique sense of smell that HE has. For he can recognize any object or person by smell, and this is what feeds his soul and sets his identity - that is until the day he encounters a wholly new intoxicating smell. What he will do upon reaching the source of that lovely odor will shock the reader to the core of his or her mind and heart! Grenouille is now a changed man and seeks to create perfumes that will entrance other as he has been enraptured. But how he will do it is both mesmerizing and shocking, again and again. For creating the perfect perfume makes him even more of a misogynist than previously and his hate will lead to numerous victims as he seeks to rid the world of malodorous men, women, and children. This is not your average horror or serial killer story. For the author depicts this psychotic individual with such neutrality and writes in such a literate style that the reader is compelled to keep rapidly turning the pages until the last shocking event! The story also gives a nice historical touch to the story, depicting the poverty, wealth, degradation and depravity of the times in a France that may be post-Revolution but is none the better for the overwhelming changes. One word only perfectly describes this novel - amazing!
EvaPohler More than 1 year ago
Only two people in my book club loved this book, and I was one of them. The others were grossed out by the details of disgusting smells and horrid deeds, but I found the powers of description this author possesses to be absolutely astounding. Many books have made me see and hear and taste and feel unusual things, but this novel makes you smell in a brilliantly artistic way. I've never read a book like this one and consider it a masterpiece as a study of the sense of smell in literature. I highly recommend this book. To read more of my book reviews, please visit my blog at bookclubpicks dot blogspot dot com.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Perfume by Patrick Süskind; Translated from the German by John E. Woods When I saw the movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) last week, I knew had to read the book. And I was greatly rewarded. Although the movie follows the book quite closely, the thought process of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille can only be grasped by reading the book. At the Cemetière des Innocents market, on July 17, 1738, one of the hottest days of the year in Paris, a fish vendor squatted and delivered her fifth baby. All prior one shad been stillbirths, so after she cut the cord, she abandoned her baby and continued working on her fish stall. However, this time the baby hung to life and cried. There was a turmoil and the baby was given to a nurse and the mother was decapitated weeks later at the place de Grève as prescribed by law. A few weeks later the wet nurse, Jeanne Busie, stood at the gates of the cloister of Saint Merri, and forced Father Terrier to take the baby away because the baby was sucking her life away and "did not smell" like a human being. Father Terrier in turn, took the baby to Madame Guillard's orphanage, where against all odds it survived: "everyday language soon would prove inadequate for designating all the olfactory notions that (Jean-Baptiste) he had accumulated within himself." Soon..."he created odors that did not exist in the real world. It was as if he were an autodidact possessed of a huge vocabulary of odors that enabled him to form at will great number of smelled sentences-" Madame Guillard's sold Jean-Baptiste to a tanner named Grimal for 15 francs. For her cares Madame Guillard lived to an old age and ended poor and alone because the French Revolution ended her pension and she died, like her father, at Hôtel-Dieu. Grenouille knew (by his smell) that Grimal was capable of trashing him to death for the least infraction and he worked like an animal for one year. He survived and excelled at his new job, but one night, he discovered the one scent that was the higher principle, the pattern by which the others must be ordered. It was pure beauty. Never before in his life had Jean-Baptiste known what happiness was. There at rue de Marais, Jean-Baptiste kills the beautiful girl that produced the essence that captivated him-and he decided that he must become the greatest perfumer of all time. Now enters Giuseppe Baldini, a perfumer on the Pont-au-Change, which connected the right bank with the Ile de la Cité. Baldini had aged and had lost his ability to create perfumes. Destiny brings him Jean-Baptiste Grenouille to his door and as the boy is exalted by all the aromas of the shop, Grenouille asks for employment. To prove himself, he copies a perfume created by his competitor-Amor and Psyche-and improves him to the point where Baldini buys Grenouille for twenty livres of gold, a huge sum. On his way home from celebrating the deal of his life, Grimal falls into the Seine River and drowns. The House of Baldini becomes an overnight success, and Grenouille learns all he can from Baldini, and at the same time learns how to write the formulas of the perfumes created, which Baldini guarded with his life. Soon Grenouille learns that only substances with essential oils can be distilled and learns that in the town of Grasse, there are three other ways to make perfume: enfleurage à chaud, enfleurage à froid, and enfleurage à l'huile. Grenouille trades his fr
Sifl More than 1 year ago
This book is a work of genius. I was so surprised that it was originally written in German because the text seems to flow so perfectly in English. The author's style and use of diction create highly descriptive scenes that pull the reader in and never let go. I found the main character, Grenouille, although a mass-murderer, somehow likable. The story is multi-faceted and full of metaphors that will keep you thinking long after you've finished the novel. This is a must-read!
Lii More than 1 year ago
The story takes place in 18th century France, where Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born lacking any personal odour at all. After a difficult childhood where nobody really wanted him, he was finally traded to a perfumer, where he learned to refine his incredible gift of smell. One day while walking the streets of Paris he discovers the scent of a beautiful young girl; it was unlike anything he had ever smelled before. He became so obsessed with the smell and the idea of creating the perfect perfume, one that no one could resist. After that day Jean-Baptiste embarks on a series of horrifying murders. "Perfume" is one of my favorite books. The scents are so detailed and vividly described I could almost smell them myself. The language in this novel is so rich and enjoyable that even if the story was less appealing it would still make a great book, one that you have to read.
leimana More than 1 year ago
This book is intense. I saw the movie before I read the book. The book is so much better. Very good read.
neurodrew More than 1 year ago
Jean Babtiste Grenouille has no scent of his own, but has an incomparable sense of smell. He is able to detect and catalogue all scents, picking them out from a crowd. He is a castoff, born and thrown out, raised by people who seek only to profit from him. He works in a tannery, contracts and survives anthrax. He presents himself with a delivery of hides to a perfumer and glover, and demonstrates his uncanny ability to compound scents from his memory. He leaves Paris after learning the perfumer¿s techniques, lives a long time in the wild, hiding in a cave far from all scents, then returns to society, first being an example for a crackpot theory of disease, and then ending up in Grasse, to learn new techniques of extracting scents. He compounds scents to use himself, with different overtones to create different effects on people. He is drawn to the scent of a virgin, resolves to extract her scent and create a perfume that would make the world fall in love with its wearer. He becomes a murderer, and escapes the execution with the use of the scent. Luscious writing, vivid detail about perfumes and the historical period, unusual main characte
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked this up at a garage sale - never been read. Oh Boy!! What a book. I have never read anything like it. It is not a copy cat of anything else I have ever read. I love reading truly original and unique story lines, complete with fully developed (if not a bit bizarre) characters, and really complex psycological undertones. I give this book a 10 - I am keeping it forever. Have ready it twice and find it fabulous.
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Merrybest More than 1 year ago
This classic is a scary/mysterious telling of a person born without scent who becomes a master perfumer.
Agent_Cooper More than 1 year ago
This was Kurt Cobain's favorite book, and that should be enough for EVERYONE.
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