After I had finished reading Pure by Andrew Miller, my boss suggested I should read Perfume next.
Then, more recently I read The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood, my boss again suggested that I really should read Perfume next.
And now I can see why.
Perfume is the kind of book you want to recommend to everyone. No matter what their reading tastes are, everyone is bound to get caught up & swept away by this story.
All three books are set in France, in and around the Revolution. They’re all completely spell-binding & fully visceral experiences.
Pure was sights, sounds and smells.
The Last Banquet was taste and smell.
Perfume (as the title would suggest) is all about smells.
It also embraces loneliness and love, belonging and desire. Depravity, decadence and decay make many appearances. It is startling, horrifying and disturbing. Yet it is impossible to stop reading, even when you want to turn away in disgust.
“It was as if he were an autodidact possessed of a huge vocabulary of odours that enabled him to form at will great numbers of smelled sentences.
Perfume was first published in German in 1985, then translated by John E. Woods in 1987 (for which he won the PEN Translation Prize). At no point in the story did I notice that this was a translated book. The words, the images and the smells flowed effortlessly and gracefully across the page.
I’m not going to say anymore, because this is one book you have to experience for yourself!