Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Book Review

Cecily Hardie, Writer

German author Patrick Süskind wrote ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ in 1985. Since that time, it has been translated to English and adapted into a 2.5 hour movie (starring Ben Whishaw and Alan Rickman). The book (and possibly the movie) should be considered a timeless masterpiece. Due to some of the subject matter and gory details, I am in no way suggesting that it should be read in high school classrooms, but I do think that everyone interested in literature should read it. 

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the main character of the novel, is born in 18th century France with an astounding sense of smell and no scent of his own. Grenouille is infatuated with the prospect of becoming the world’s best perfumer, and in his search for knowledge and new smells, he finds that he likes the scent of women. Grenouille is a despicable and pitiable character. Ingenious and disgusting, he is often compared to a tick and other types of bugs. He is a pathetic character who is very well-written.

My favorite part of the book is how it made me feel. The descriptions of the sights and smells Grenouille and other characters are subjected to created a bad taste in my mouth and a bad smell in my nose, like I am in the cave where Grenouille is crouching or walking barefoot through the unhygienic streets.

Though the rest of the novel is realistic, the last 20 or 30 pages are suddenly and absolutely outlandish and ridiculous. Whether the reader enjoys the book or not, I guarantee that they will finish it thinking ‘What on Earth did I just subject my eyes to?’

My answer: “The peak of German literature.”