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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Book Review: 23:27 by H.L. Roberts

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Book Review: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

Title: Perfume: The Story of A Murderer
Author(s): Patrick Suskind (translated by J.E. Woods) 
Finished: July 22, 2008

Set in 18th century France, Perfume tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages. Born lacking a personal odor (a fact other people find disquieting) but endowed with an incomparable sense of smell, he apprentices himself to a perfumer and becomes obsessed with procuring the perfect scent that will make him fully human. In the process, he creates perfumes presumably based on pheromones that powerfully manipulate human emotions, murdering 25 girls to take their scent. 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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