Book Reviews of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Perfume The Story of a Murderer
Author: Patrick Suskind, John E. Woods (Translator)
ISBN-13: 9780307277763
ISBN-10: 0307277763
Publication Date: 11/7/2006
Pages: 272
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 62

3.6 stars, based on 62 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

44 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Perfume: The Story of a Murderer on
Helpful Score: 6
I was skeptical and didn't think I'd be crazy about this book, but, I was hooked from the beginning. Very intriguing, I was waiting with baited breath to see what odd events in the life of Grenouille would pop up next. A creepy story, while far-fetched, it was oddly believable. Great descriptions of the unsanitary living conditions in 18th century France. What an absolutely enthralling tale. I recommend it!
reviewed Perfume: The Story of a Murderer on + 136 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Patrick Suskind's dark fable explores the psyche of a man who possesses the world's most powerful and refined sense of smell. Throughout his life, Grenouille is obsessed with scents, longing to name them, to manipulate them, and finally to possess them.

The book moved slowly for me at first, but Suskind's evocative writing and his forays into the depths of Grenouille's black soul kept me turning pages to see how it all would end. Other characters, including Baldini the master perfumer and the amateur scientist Taillade-Espinasse, lent some sly humor to the story.

As Grenouille moved closer to the culmination of his obsession, I turned pages faster and read the last quarter of the book in one sitting. Everything fell into place for a horrifying, but completely appropriate ending.
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Helpful Score: 5
What a strange, beautiful and yet somewhat gruesome book. It's a fantastical story, an awful lot like Isak Dinesen's European tales. In odoriferous 18th century France, a strange child is born who has an extraordinary gift of comprehending the world by all its various scents. He himself is a conscienceless little monster. Eventually, he becomes a master parfumier, and discovers that the finest essence he's ever smelled is that of virginal young girls on the very edge of maturation. He decides he must somehow possess that essence, a resolution that leads him into violence. This is a lyrically written book -- the description of the various scents of daily life are incredible. Some readers are likely to find the prose rather mannered. The authorial voice is definitely fairy-tale-ish. But it's also a rather gruesome story. I think this is a love it/hate it book. You have to be able to tolerate a despicable anti-hero as the main character. I'm teetering in my verdict even now, as I mull it over. I think its allegorical elements go too far toward the end. But that the texture of Ancient Regime France is wonderful and again, the description of the smells! It's only February but I'm sure it will be one of the most unusual books I've read this year.
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Helpful Score: 4
This novel was strange yet brilliant. The story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille who was born without an odor in 18th century Paris -- a city of stench. Yet he has an amazing sense of smell which is the essence of this novel. Grenouille is possessed by this sense of smell and his ability to recall and recreate smells. He uses this "gift" to become a master perfumer but he is constantly seeking and must possess the essence of a young woman. This story kept me engrossed clear through to its startling conclusion.

The prose is eloquent including the descriptions of the smells of the stench of the city and the smells of the perfumes created by Grenouille. Some of the descriptions reminded me of another interesting novel I read last year: The Great Stink by Clare Clark. Ill have to watch for the movie version of Perfume to see how well it translates to the screen. Overall, I would recommend this novel.
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Helpful Score: 3
This book was very bizarre. It was recommended by a friend who said it was her favorite book of all time. I honestly couldn't wait until it was over and I almost stopped reading before page 50. A soulless, scentless perfumer in 18th century France becomes a serial killer in order to extract the unique scents of his victims and create the ultimate perfume. The point of the book (if there is one at all) is that human beings are nothing more than easily manipulated animals, victims of our own instincts and physical desires, and that our arrogance of anthropological superiority is an illusion.
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Helpful Score: 3
this is a book that I wouldn't have read except that my bookclub chose it. it is the type of book that has enough ambiguity in it to generate a lot of discussion. on the surface, the book is an interesting story about a man with a superb sense of smell and how he chooses to use that gift.

if you are looking for a light easy read, this is NOT the book for you.
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Helpful Score: 3
I originally watched the movie and fell in love with it. When I found out it was a book, I just had to read it. The movie follows very closely to the story, but the book is still well-worth reading. The descriptions are so much more detailed for smells in the book than in the movie, which is simply just a pitfall of movies. The amount of description for even just a single smell makes one realize things about certain smells that one has not considered before. The main character was pitiable and, in some cases, even amiable.

My husband and I both enjoyed this immensely!
reviewed Perfume: The Story of a Murderer on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
The story of a fairly deranged murderer, obsessed with creating the perfect perfume as he possesses no smell from himself. Set in 18th century France this book overflows with historical details and images varying from grotesque to sublime. A very, very entertaining story, and as I understand - soon to be presented as a movie. How that is supposed to work I don't get; as much of this story is described as scents...
reviewed Perfume: The Story of a Murderer on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
truly disturbing book about a boy born in 18th century Paris who has no scent, but who does have an otherworldly sense of smell of all that surrounds him. His apprenticeship with a perfumer instills in him a desire to produce the most beautiful, unique perfume in the world. The method he uses to reach his goal is truly horrifying. Grenoville (the boy) is a unique monster in that he enthralls without warmth - we want to have sympathy for an abused orphan and one who lacks that most essential physical persona of all humans: their scent - but we never do. The mores and culture of 18th century Paris are depicted beautifully, but Grenville is a hard character to care about.
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Helpful Score: 2
While the main character is duly repulsive, he is fascinating none the less. The story is told so successfully, that you can visualize each scene. It is about a man in 18th century France, born without a scent (he CAN smell, he just doesn't HAVE a personal scent of his own) and with a heightened sense of smell so that he can duplicate an odor of anything he wishes, both stinking and fragrantly rich. The story unfolds as we read of his progression from a lowly born nothing, to his aspirations to be the worlds best perfumer, to his madness of capturing the scent of his eventual victims, and his eventual fate. Quite an imaginative work of fiction, but it is extremely dark to the point of being disturbing in some points. Yet, you won't be able to put it down.
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Helpful Score: 2
Very much in the line of a Jack-the-Ripper story, but set in France. A terrifyingly intoxicating glimpse into the mind of a serial killer whose goal is not the death, but the perfume that is given off only by a young woman...
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Helpful Score: 1
Fascinating subject, interesting characters, overall a great read!! This was recently made into a movie as well..Zoe
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Helpful Score: 1
This was my first exposure to the wonderful, weird mind of Patrick Suskind. This is a "must read" for those who enjoy genres like John Fowles and Jeffrey Archer. I'm keeping this one in my library to reread.
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Helpful Score: 1
This was a very interesting book. A lot of description, but I didn't mind. Obviously well researched and well written. Main character was believable and kind of ick, but I couldn't look away. This was made into a movie.
reviewed Perfume: The Story of a Murderer on + 181 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The fascinating story of a man born with no scent of his own (or any sense of human empathy), but an incredible sense of smell. Suskind captures the gritty, chaotic world of 18th century France, making the setting almost another character in this story of a despicable, but fascinating freak.
reviewed Perfume: The Story of a Murderer on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
An engaging story that reveals the world of 18th-century French perfumeries with the tale of a heartless, inhuman serial killer who is slave to his exceptional sense of smell. Very engaging. I heard that the film version was panned. Perhaps because (like in the book) the character is inaccessible and devoid of human caring or empathy. As in real life, not all villains are charming and stylish like Alan Rickman in Die Hard.
reviewed Perfume: The Story of a Murderer on
Helpful Score: 1
This is a very interesting book; detailed and gruesome and truly unique. the movie is good too. I recommend it!!
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Helpful Score: 1
Very quick read, very descriptive storytelling. Fascinating and appalling all at once - you can't hardly believe your reading this story, but can't hardly put it down either! Movie based on this book just came out starring Dustin Hoffman.
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Helpful Score: 1
A truly original novel. I felt like I was living on the streets of Paris.
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Helpful Score: 1
Strange little story of the life of a man with a supernatural sense of smell but no human odor of his own. Plot is thin at first read but I think it's one of those that you have to chew over for a while to get the true meaning out of it. Lovely descriptive writing, especially of scents.
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Helpful Score: 1
I did not like this book at all. The writing is amateurish. The story-telling is gross. The story itself is a cross between a horrendous fairy tale and a farce.

A child is born without a scent, which makes it impossible for people to love him. Thus, he's raised without love or parental guidance. He has a sensitive sense of smell and grows to make perfume.

But he's psychotic, a sociopath. He has a fondness for the scent of young red-headed girls, which he kills in mass. He seeks to capture the scent of love.

While the description thus far might sound intriguing, the story falls apart and becomes nothing more than a farce. The ending is completely implausible.
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Helpful Score: 1
I loved the movie and decided that I wanted to try out the book. When my reading group selected this one, I was excited to open it up. Suffice to say, I was satisfied with the book. The main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, was definitely a bad person. I spent so much of the book wondering what was going on in his head, trying to diagnose just what mental illness he suffered from to be so without emotion. Cruel, perhaps not, but definitely without moral judgment or really any sense of attachment to the people around him. I found myself disgusted, asking myself, "what is wrong with this guy?!" more times that I could possibly count. Ultimately, I found all of the characters repulsive in their own way, full of their own evil and vice. I think this was intended. Chilling of all is the plot, the decision of scentless Jean-Baptiste Grenouille to possess the sweetest smell of them all: the smell of beautiful young women. He is truly a man filled only with his own strange desires and hatred. His power to map any scent, to smell everything around him, is used to this end. It's a book about obsession, murder, mystery, mental illness, beauty... so many categories. It's definitely a good read, too, for anyone who likes historical fiction.
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Engrossing while you are reading it but you do not become attached to any of the characters. Grenouille is duly repulsive. The ending is dumb.
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Jean-Baptiste Grenouille - human or monster? Both? Just when I found myself feeling sympathetic to this young man who grew up without human kindness, the monster side of him would emerge and I could sense his scorn for people he fooled with his pretense of humanity. This was a beautifully written book about the importance of smell that we all take for granted and how one man with an incredible gift took advantage of people.
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Excellent book. the basis for the Nirvana song "Scentless Apprentice".
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Spooky story unlike any other I've ever read.
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THis is one of the strangest but compelling books I have ever read. The main character was less than lovable but tenacious and survived a brutal childhood as an orphan. He had an incredible gift but you must read it to find out what it is.
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Trade paperback - One of the most unusual and unforgetable books I've ever read. I believe there is a movie being made.
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Inter into a world of a evil genius, a murder so deprieved that only the most hideous of crimes could satify his lust...a killer who lives to possess the essence of young virgins, whose request takes him bounderies of love and hate.
HORROR
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I found this book to be very slow in getting the story out. Others have loved it but for me, it was just so so.
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Strange book but a good one. CK
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Intriguing concept - however the plot feels rushed about 3/4 way through. Worth a read anyway!
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This book requires a little fortitude. Beautifully written, but still the story of a monster murderer. Suspenseful. Well reviewed.
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An interesting 18th century villain, although nothing near as beguiling as a Hannibal Lector. I liked the author's notion that we're all heavily influenced (often unconsciously) by scent, plus the book's ending was engaging & creative. Oddly enough, there is an extended rant around pages 50-60 that I found the most riveting section: an older man, a perfumer with his heart and mind in the prior century, examines modernity and the myriad rapid & "shocking" ways that times have changed (and continue changing) just prior to the Seven Year's War (1756-1763).
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Read this BEFORE you see the movie! This is one of those books that sticks with you for a really long time - quite a powerful read. I recommend it, but it's not for the squeamish.
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Very unique, good thriller/horror.
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Absolutely fantastic. You must read it. Beautifully written. One of my "keepers". A favorite.
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Beautiful language for ugly circumstances & situations. Loved the book. The first I've rated a 5 in a long time.
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I tried to read it after hearing several good things about it but I could not get interested in it.
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I'd prefer more detailed descriptions on the murders. It was not gorry enough for me.
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A co-worker recommended this book to me many years ago. I recommended it to my book club at one point and have re-read it more than once. I have often thought that our sense of smell gets sort-shrifted and have wondered if, in fact, it plays a predominant role in our perception of other people and events. Suskind presents that theory thrillingly, I think--and provides a wealth of information about the perfume industry in Paris of old as a bonus.
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Its tough to describe this book. Its creepy and equally as beautiful for its prose. The story tells of an orphan (never loved by anyone his mother birthed him in a fish stall and left him for dead) who was born w/o a scent of his own but was born, however, with a superhuman sense of smell. He grows up to work in several perfume shops learning how to extract the essence of various flowers. Later he uses these techniques to experiment and kills small animals for their oils in hopes to create a human-like scent for himself. Once he catches a whiff of what he thinks to be the most glorious scent in the world, that of a young virgin, Jean-Baptiste cant help but to kill the girls so that he can bottle their essence forever. He wants to make their scents his own so that he too can be loved and embraced by the people of Paris. The imagery is captivating. At times the author goes into a bit too much detail about something or other, but it does not distract from the book at all. The story ends with a bit of a twist. I give this 3.50 to 4 stars.
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It is a interesting read.Not a favorite of mine but interesting
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Translated from the original German.