Lisa Vegan's Reviews > Jitterbug Perfume

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
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's review
Jul 19, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: bookclub, fiction, novel, speculative-fiction, reviewed, aaalt
Read in July, 2009

The library gave me a musty, beat up hardcover edition with a missing dust cover. I’m so visually oriented that in order to better enjoy the book I printed out pictures of both the hardcover and a paperback cover too.

I really struggled while reading this book and it took me forever to read it.

I enjoyed the main love story and liked the parts that take place in ancient Bohemia much better than most of the modern era portions.

While I was reading I felt as though I was reading a series of different stories. I felt that the plot disintegrated toward the end as the author seemed to go from writing a speculative fiction novel to a combination of philosophy, science, political, and health/longevity treatise, but not in a particularly interesting or compelling manner, or with enough accuracy either. The very end did bring all the parts together, and I suspected that it would. I think that the author tried to do too much with this novel; it was as though he was working out for himself some of the mysteries of life, but not in a way that entertained or enlightened me. Parts were brilliant but for me the whole was not.

I did find interesting the main theme of avoiding death, of the search for immortality. Immortality, perfume/smell/odor, and beets, yes beets, are the main subject matter of this novel. The god Pan makes an interesting appearance.

However, I found it long and rambling and at times irritating and annoying. It was a strange book. It’s hard for me to evaluate it given what was going on in my life while I was reading it. At another time I might have appreciated it more or been even more peeved by what I consider its flaws.

I do think it can make a good book club selection though, and I did read it for my real world book club; there’s some interesting material for discussion, especially regarding the ramifications of immortality.

Edited a day later: I just downgraded this book a star. Despite moments of brilliance and many interesting parts, at best it was just an ok book for me. I struggled through it and wouldn't have finished it had it not been for my book club. While I liked the author's ambition, I didn't really like the book enough to give it 3 stars. I couldn't even be bothered to write a long, thoughtful review because I didn't want to extend the experience.
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Reading Progress

06/20 page 1
0.29% "Well, I guess I'll start this book next, Monday or before then."
06/23 page 7
2.05% "Weird, but interesting and with some beautiful sentences. Perhaps I can enjoy this."
07/01 page 19
5.56% "Gosh, I haven't had time to read so I'm barely into this. Hmm...have some Trader Joe's beets at home. Maybe I should eat them as I read! ;-)"
07/13 page 171
50.0% "It's been ages since I've gone through a book so slowly, but I am enjoying it."
07/15 page 233
68.13% "I'm taking forever to read this. Must finish by Sunday."
07/18 page 254
74.27% "I've never been so down to the wire reading a book for my real world book club meeting, which is tomorrow afternoon. I'll finish it though."
03/16 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Lisa Vegan Blech. Got a library copy beat up and without a dust cover, but it's this edition.

Phil James Nice. One of my favourite books and definitely the best of Tom Robbins.

Jason This is such a a phenomenal book.
I envy those who get to approach Robbins for the first time. I've been thinking about re-reading them for a while now.

Lisa Vegan Phil and Jason, Oh so good to know. I know nothing about it. I've read only one of his books and that was years ago. I'm reading it for my real world book club for our July meeting.

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