I was bound and determined to give this book 3 stars. Parts were wonderful, parts just weren't resonating with me (a little too Woolf-esque for my tasI was bound and determined to give this book 3 stars. Parts were wonderful, parts just weren't resonating with me (a little too Woolf-esque for my tastes). Then I hit the last chapter, and wow! Its lyrical, circuitous story telling starts to fall into place.
I read this as part of an overall Australia themed reading kick I'm on right now. Yet I have to recommend it for lovers of language- who appreciate authors who push the boundaries between prose and poetry and between magic and reality.
Whatever you do, read Hound of the Baskervilles. Holy cow, that's now one of my favorite books. The short stories are fun, but some are better than otWhatever you do, read Hound of the Baskervilles. Holy cow, that's now one of my favorite books. The short stories are fun, but some are better than others.
It feels like Holmes and Watson are really fleshed out as dynamic characters in Baskervilles. Is it the longer length? Is it because it was written so much later than the short stories?...more
"Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions or will. The persuasive power of an odour cannot be fended off,"Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions or will. The persuasive power of an odour cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it."
"For people could close their eyes to greatness, to horrors, to beauty, and their ears to melodies or deceiving words. But they could not escape scent. For scent was a brother of breath. Together with breath it entered human beings, who could not defend themselves against it, not if they wanted to live. And scent entered into their very core, went directly to their hearts, and decided for good and all between affection and contempt, disgust and lust, love and hate. He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men."
3/4 of the way through Perfume, I was going to tell you all in my review that if you're a fan of Dexter or maybe even True Blood, you might enjoy this book. Then I realized at the end that I was being too simplistic. It's for lovers of words, language, history, descriptions and loving to hate a character.
It's a strange thing writing a whole book about smell. Smell is one of our few senses that doesn't translate to images, words, or descriptions. I always find perfume ads amusing, because they have to evoke an emotion they are hoping consumers will feel when they do finally smell the scent. Young mother hanging the laundry! Sexy woman in a bustier in the basement of a Speakeasy! Man on a horse holding jewels!
Yet scent, at its heard, instantly takes us to our memories. I think I've finally figured out that the distinctive smell that infused my grandparents' house in South Dakota was a mix of talc, pine scented cleaner and fresh baked cookies. I might be wrong, but every once in a while I whiff something close to this and am immediately back in their 50's era kitchen with the big round drawer pulls.
I think Süskind succeeded in drawing the reader a scented picture of mid-eighteenth century France. He then layers that with the development of a poor, weird creature who only has his hyper-olfactory nerves as an asset. The story ends up being bizarre, fascinating, and altogether horrifying, with layers upon layers of scent.
Definitely not a book for everyone.
Oh, and by the way, the lead character's name, Grenouille, means frog in French. Do frogs have a smell?...more