Perfume by Patrick Suskind
(International Writers)


10 Critic Reviews

...Suskind's storytelling, short on memorable supporting players, lacks the Candide-like brio needed to sustain involvement in such an arch and stagy (if frequently impressive) exercise.


An acclaimed bestseller and international sensation, Patrick Suskind’s classic novel provokes a terrifying examination of what happens when one man’s indulgence in his greatest passion—his sense of smell—leads to murder.

In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift—an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin. Told with dazzling narrative brilliance, Perfume is a hauntingly powerful tale of murder and sensual depravity. 

Translated from the German by John E. Woods.


About Patrick Suskind

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Patrick Suskind was born in Ambach, near Munich, in 1949. He studied medieval and modern history at the University of Munich. His first play, The Double Bass, was written in 1980 and became an international success. It was performed in Germany, in Switzerland, at the Edinburgh Festival, in London, and at the New Theatre in Brooklyn. His first novel, Perfume became an internationally acclaimed bestseller. He is also the author of The Pigeon and Mr. Summer's Story, and a coauthor of the enormously successful German television series Kir Royal. Mr. Suskind lives and writes in Munich. Janeway is a translator. Woods is professor emeritus of English at Western Michigan University.
Published May 14, 2014 by Vintage. 276 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Education & Reference, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Perfume
All: 10 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 4


Below average
on Sep 30 1986

...Suskind's storytelling, short on memorable supporting players, lacks the Candide-like brio needed to sustain involvement in such an arch and stagy (if frequently impressive) exercise.

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Reviewed by Samantha Tracey on May 03 2001

It has elements of mystery, drama, suspense, romance, morality and many more, but the element of fantasy is particularly attractive. Perfume, the story of a murderer, is a tribute to the mind and imagination of Patrick Suskind, who so wonderfully combined all of the elements needed to sustain a great story.

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The Book Smugglers

Reviewed by Thea on Sep 19 2009

I would never have picked up this novel had I not been dared by Ana – but I absolutely loved it. Perfume is an unforgettable bouquet indeed.

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ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Below average
Reviewed by Lisa Hill on Feb 15 2009

I did not like this grotesque little book. It seems to me to be drenched in gratuitous unpleasantness, punctuated by nasty deaths.

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A Common Reader

Above average
on Apr 18 2008

This is a book for those who can revel in word-pictures and can let their imagination take-off under the spell of this excellent author. They will find they can hardly put the book down, while those of a more literal and logical turn of mind may find it just too unbelievable and perhaps a little too wordy.

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Reviewed by Krystyn Starr on Apr 22 2015

It is one of the most gloriously descriptive novels you will ever read. It is an unforgettable commentary on depravity, unfettered arrogance, and ironically misplaced idealism.

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A Book a Day Till I Can Stay Blog

Below average
on Jul 08 2010

The conceit of the novel is to introduce a supernatural agent who can manipulate the baser aspects of human nature...Overall though I found the tone unnecessarily parodic and the humour cruelly callous. To be honest I far prefer Lemony Snicket’s tragic fables.

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Fantasy and Sci-Fi Lovin' News & Reviews

Reviewed by Harry Markov on Dec 30 2008

Extravagant, visual and surrealistic the story spins out of reality’s control, demolishes the rules with a bulldozer and show like a grand theatre hall how the least likely things happen.

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Lizzy's Literary Life

Reviewed by lizzysiddal on Dec 14 2009

My adjective of choice would be “creepy” and if I’m allowed a second , I’d call it brilliant. It’s not quite a masterpiece. It’s spoiled by that second section, the one in which Grenouille crawls into his cave for 7 years. I found that quite boring and simply too fantastical.

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Book Addiction

Below average
Reviewed by Richard on Oct 09 2008

The thing is, though, Perfume is a plot-driven story. And in my opinion, the plot goes off the rails badly. The scene of the hanging was ... beyond absurd, and for me, the book dragged itself brokenly from that point on to what felt like a failed conclusion.

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