Elizabeth's Reviews > Jitterbug Perfume

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
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's review
Sep 12, 2011

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

I'm going to be honest with you: I didn't really know what to think about this book. I know that I liked it, though.

So this is an epic, but it's short. It narrates the life of the ancient king Alobar, who decided he was not ready to die. After escaping death twice, he makes it his mission to find a way to live forever. Interjected amidst this chronicle are the stories of Priscilla the waitress, Madame Devalier the perfumer, and Marcel, the scent genius of the LeFever perfume house. The multiple story lines are confusing at first, because they don't intersect until the end. It's clear that they are connected, since each perfumer finds a mysterious beet tossed in his or her window every morning, as they struggle to recreate a perfume with magic power. There's jasmine, citrus, and...what?

Immortality, love and sexuality, and the power of scent are the most prominent themes in the book. Robbins writes about the primal nature of scent; it's power to help us remember, and to bring us back. He suggests that it is the way we smell that makes us alive.

So this book is crazy. It's also fairly explicit (that's Tom Robbins for you); even his descriptive prose uses language that is erotically charged. It's beautifully written, though, and it's a great read despite it's trippy-ness. I recommend it, but only if you're willing to let your mind get a little boggled.

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