Thursday, March 22, 2012
Grenouille was an interesting character. On the exterior, he was pretty nondescript, bordering on ugly. He didn't start out as very handsome and became increasingly malformed as each misfortune presented itself and left its mark on him. Inside, he viewed himself as the highest being. He valued no other person at all and didn't experience love or affection for anyone or anything except scents. His sense of smell was his greatest gift and he mastered everything he could about extracting scents from things and trapping them in oils and perfumes. The detail of these processes were detailed and showed a lot of research about 18th century perfume techniques. Although Grenouille isn't a likeable or relatable character, I still was on his side throughout the novel. Almost everyone who interacted with him either used him for their own gain or were simply pretty horrible people. It was almost comical that these people always met with misfortune and death after Grenouille left them. We also see these people through Grenouille's eyes for the most part, so we simply see how they can be used and discarded for his greater goal: successfully trapping scents. Suskind's writing made it easy to to be on Grenouille's side despite his sociopathic ways.
Perfume was a wonderful and unique novel that mixes fantasy and 18th century France. The shocking ending proved to be horrific and beautiful at the same time. I would love to read other books by Suskind, particularly The Pigeon, a followup novel to Perfume. I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction who aren't afraid of a twisted story.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins