Sorry guys, I hate this book. I know a large per cent of you must love it since y’all voted it up there at number 80, ahead of any Murakami book (?!?!?!) but it’s just not for me! It’s an odd story, and really I think I’d peg it as a novella that’s been padded out with smaller stories about the characters the protagonist meets along the way.
It’s the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, who is born under a fish table and left for dead. He grows up via a series of orphanages, wet nurses and apprenticeships to be a very detached young man, with an extremely sensitive sense of smell. He can smell money behind a wall and people from several miles away, and can distinguish the individual scents within a perfume from one sniff. Soon, though, he begins to crave a scent that he doesn’t know how to distil: the innocence of a young girl.
The book is subtitled ‘The Story of a Murderer’ and for that reason I did expect a bit more of a psychological study of Grenouille. Instead what I felt I got was ‘He was born here and he grew up here and then he did this and then he did that.’ Except, a bit more sophisticated, obviously. It was far fetched, too; I’m willing to accept that a smell can have a certain, subconscious effect on people but this takes it a bit far. I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to be taking the book seriously or not. Oh, and the ending…what???