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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (International Writers) Paperback – 1 Jan 1987

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Product details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Paperback edition (1 Jan. 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140120831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140120837
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (285 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Patrick Suskind was born near Munich, in 1949. He studied medieval and modern history at the University of Munich. His first play, The Double Bass, was written in 1980 and became an international success. His first novel, Perfume became an internationally acclaimed bestseller. He is also the author of The Pigeon and Mr. Summer's Story, and a coauthor of the enormously successful German television series Kir Royal. Patrick Suskind lives and writes in Munich.

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First Sentence
In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By "jasonbennett3" on 19 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
I’d heard a lot of good things about Patrick Suskind’s Perfume before I read it. It seemed to be one of those rare books that came out of no where and has slowly, effortlessly become a classic of modern European literature.
In many ways it is unique – the life story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the unloved, abandoned street urchin born in a putrid gutter in eighteenth-century Paris moments before his mother died. What makes Grenouille different to all the other orphans though is the fact that he has no odour, no smell at all; and he has the most remarkable nose that can not only pick out a scent from miles away but can also unravel its strands until every element has been teased out. As Grenouille ambles through his life from friendless child to a tanner’s labourer, and then onto the position of apprentice to Baldini, a washed-out, cheating perfumer, it becomes clear that Grenouille has not only the ability to pluck scents from the air but also to create the most wondrous perfumes the world has ever known.
Grenouille doesn’t want to just produce magical scents that will take Europe by storm and give him unimaginable wealth though. He wants to create something else, something just for himself, and he will stop at nothing to achieve this. So, his journey takes him out of Paris and finally to Grasse in southern France where the true abomination of this creature truly comes to light.
Perfume is in many ways an epic novel and whilst it wanes a little in the middle, the plot glides with a steady pace across France, over many years and a sizeable cast of fascinating and colourfully drawn caricatures. Suskind succeeds in the seemingly impossible.
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 May 2001
Format: Paperback
Poor Grenouille! Born in 18th century Paris on one of the hottest days in summer, amid a stinking pile of fish guts. Not a great start to life but it gets worse...he has no personal odour to speak of and as such, people don't seem to like him, though they can't say why. Grenouille is special however, he has one of the finest 'noses' in Paris, able to distinguish and isolate odours like no other. His talent therefore, is considered quite valuable, particularly in the perfume business. But it is not perfume that Grenouille wants to create, rather, it is a special kind of scent that will make people feel attracted to him. In order to create this special scent he must extract the odours from a special kind of woman and the only way to do that is to kill them. This is a fascinatingly sick tale with a sad and haunting ending you will remember for a long time to come.
One of the things that I found so fascinating about this book was Susskind's in-depth knowledge of the olfactory senses; the way people, places and objects have certain kinds of odours which can be stored in the memory and recalled at a later date. His descriptions were so well written and convincing that I could almost smell them. Susskind's style of writing and use of language, brings to life the decadence and stench which must of existed in 18th century Paris, giving the reader and insight into the realities of the era.
I cannot say that this novel is unputdownable as I had to put it down many times in order to absorb much of what I had read, and also to bring me back up for some fresh air. This would have to be one of the most bizarre books that I have ever read but I am so glad that I did read it because it now belongs to my collection of favourites. The sheer brilliance of Perfume places it in a genre of its own.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A. D. Burnett-thompson on 4 Nov. 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
The minute I've closed the book, I've realized that good books don't come to an end as I thought for some time. I was suddenly richer than everyone around me. It can't be explained, but it's the feeling one has after reading great books. Usually one can not describe books, disect them into mathematic equations because all that mood they induce vanishes. I'll try to do this without spoiling the aroma of The Perfume. It's about the tragic destiny of someone who cannot understand the world around him without smelling it. The words gain consistence only after smelling the "object" they define. Imagine undestanding love through your nose. It sounds silly but it's the way our character does it. It's the smell, the scent that makes people irresistible or hated.
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Dec. 1999
Format: Paperback
I have to say that you either love or hate the character of Grenouille in Suskind's novel. In some respects, he is not unlike Mary Shelly's Frankenstein; a monster almost, but not quite human - an outcast from society, evoking in turn disgust, ridicule and sympathy. It is indeed a very strange book - I don't think you could easily classify it simply as historical, romantic or horror - it is a combination of all plus that extra something - smell - in all it's wonderful, descriptive glory. This much overlooked sense is brought to vivid life - it adds that extra dimension that helps to make this novel such a strangely compelling read. I could not make up my mind whether or not I was actually enjoying the book, but once I had started it, I could not put it down. Even several months after reading it, it lingers in the memory like the smells and settings it describes in such glorious detail. I know that I will read it again and again with the same mixture of repulsion and fascination. If that is the mark of a good book, then this is it.
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