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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Paperback – 1 Apr 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 332 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141041153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141041155
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (332 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Superb storytelling all the way...the climax is a savage shocker."-"The Cleveland Plain Dealer"

" A fable of crimial genius.... Remarkable." -- "The New York Times"
" Mesmerizing from first page to last.... A highly sophisticated horror tale." -- "The Plain Dealer"
" A supremely accomplished work of art, marvelously crafted and enjoyable and rich in historical detail." -- "The San Francisco Chronicle"
" An original and astonishing novel." -- "People"
" An ingenious story...about a most exotic monster.... Suspense build up steadily." -- "Los Angeles Times"
" Immensely seductive.... Storytelling at its best." -- "The Kansas City Star"

"A fable of crimial genius.... Remarkable." —"The New York Times"
"Mesmerizing from first page to last.... A highly sophisticated horror tale." —"The Plain Dealer"
"A supremely accomplished work of art, marvelously crafted and enjoyable and rich in historical detail." —"The San Francisco Chronicle"
"An original and astonishing novel." —"People"
"An ingenious story...about a most exotic monster.... Suspense build up steadily." —"Los Angeles Times"
"Immensely seductive.... Storytelling at its best." —"The Kansas City Star"

"A fable of crimial genius.... Remarkable." --"The New York Times"

"Mesmerizing from first page to last.... A highly sophisticated horror tale." --"The Plain Dealer"

"A supremely accomplished work of art, marvelously crafted and enjoyable and rich in historical detail." --"The San Francisco Chronicle"

"An original and astonishing novel." --"People"

"An ingenious story...about a most exotic monster.... Suspense build up steadily." --"Los Angeles Times"

"Immensely seductive.... Storytelling at its best." --"The Kansas City Star"

?A fable of criminal genius?. Remarkable."?"The New York Times" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer 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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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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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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I came to this book expecting to find crime novel, or a thriller, about a serial killer. Instead I found a beautifully written and deeply researched novel about a young Frenchman with an unusual sense of smell and a unique gift for the art of the perfumier. In fact, the murders of young girls, so emphasised in the film, take second place to the marvellous descriptions of how perfume is made, and the way in which Grenouille gradually infiltrates the profession, becoming a master perfumier due to his prodigious gifts.

The story starts in 18th century Paris, and Suskind treats us to a vivid word picture of the terrible conditions its poorer residents had to live in, and the vast range of vile aromas surrounding them (and emanating from them!). We read of Grenouille rise from foundling to journeyman, and his obsession with creating the ultimate perfume - the very essence of a young virgin (OK, so there are murders in this book after all).

Grenouille eventually has to flee south, and resides for a period in a cave in the volcanic region of the Auvergne, eventually emerging to resume his career in the centre of the perfume trade in the South of France. Here he makes a huge impact on the people he lives among due to his fantastic gifts, and towards the end of the novel, he commits further murders in pursuit of "essence of virgin". The novel takes a final departure from reality at this stage, as the townsfolk who have assembled to see the perpertrator executed (in a vilely imaginative way), are overcome with a perfume which drives them into a long-lasting sensual orgy.

This is a book for those who can revel in word-pictures and can let their imagination take-off under the spell of this excellent author. They will find they can hardly put the book down, while those of a more literal and logical turn of mind may find it just too unbelievable and perhaps a little too wordy.
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