As its name suggests, this novel is primarily concerned with smell, not least in plot. It follows the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a baby born amongst the horrendous stench of Paris but with no apparent scent of his own – an ironic notion given that he possesses the most incredible sense of smell.
We follow him as his nose guides him through life, witnessing his apprenticeship to a perfumer and his subsequent pursuit of the perfect scent. However, underneath, as we find out, lurks a murderous and curiously erotic twist.
Despite the novel’s apparent lack of exciting plot and its rather hurried and bizarre ending, it is still an engaging read. The reader is constantly enchanted by Suskind’s incredibly descriptive passages, and is drawn into the world he creates. Like the protagonist, we experience the world through smell and it is this very original and new way of storytelling that gives the novel its strength.
With a film of this book about to be released, I would urge you to read it; it is wonderful and weird and well worth a read.