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Perfume : The story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

Perfume was such a wild ride. I've never given much thought about the things we smell and I believe it is the sense that affects us the least. Even then, it's effect is on a more subtle level that we are often unaware. However, in this book, its power is immense.

"Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions or will. The persuasive power of an odour cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it".

Set in 18th century France, the book follows Jean-Baptiste Grenouille who from the time he is born has no smell. However he has a nose like no other. His sense of smell reaches far, he is able to remember, categorize and distinguish thousands of smells. Although he has always been obsessed with scent, things take a more sinister turn when he starts murdering in order to obtain the essence of a scent.

"He was very greedy. The goal of the hunt was simply to possess everything the world could offer in the way of odours, and his only condition was that the odours be new ones".

"He had gathered tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of specific smells and kept them so clearly, so randomly, at his disposal, that he could not only recall them when he smelled them again, but could also actually smell them simply upon recollection. and what was more. he even knew how by sheer imagination to arrange new combinations of them, to the point where he created odours that did not exist in the real world".

Grenouille is often called a tick throughout of the book portraying something that is animalistic in its nature and has a single goal in mind which it devotes its entire life to.

"The young Grenouille was such a tick. He lived encapsulated in himself and waited for better times. He gave the world nothing but his dung - no smile, no cry, no glimmer in the eye, not even his own scent".

" This scent was inconceivable, indescribable, could not be categorized in any way - it really ought not to exist at all. He had to have it, not simply in order to possess it, but for his heart to be at peace"

" But now he was quivering with happiness and could not sleep for pure bliss. It was as if he had been born a second time; no, not a second time, the first time, for until now he had merely existed like an animal with a most nebulous self - awareness".

It was clear to him now why he clung to life so tenaciously, so savagely. He must become a creator of scents. And not just an average one. But, rather, the greatest perfumer of all time"

This is the sort of book that makes your skin crawl and stays with you very long after you've read it. It is getting a perspective from a mind that is so unlike a human. I would recommend this if you want to read a book that will scar you for life but with gorgeous descriptions about scent.

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