This is a book I read recently. By recently, I mean I ordered a paperback of it, and when it arrived, consumed all 260 pages of this wonderful fiction in 2 days. The only fault I have is regarding the ending being as I feel, quite rushed, although that only particularly affects the last 20 pages of the story. The rest was wonderful to read.
The story follows Jean-Baptiste Grenouille a person born who has no odour but has the most capable nose at smelling scents and deconstructing and constructing new combinations of scents. This is of note because very few books(fiction or non-fiction... implying that non-fiction should even do it) have invoked the sense of smell so much and so thoroughly throughout. It's quite honestly very interesting and engaging simply because of how it's a master class in the old "adage" for literature writing "Show don't tell".
It goes through the entire life of the person, from birth all the way to death, and all his actions in between. Consisting and delivering a selection of feelings ranging from disgust at the warped eroticism that is present, alongside a misanthropy for human behaviours and motives. It takes place in the middle of the 18th century, so you do see an interesting interpretation of pre-revolution France. It also does align relatively well with expectation, so worries about how difficult it is to be properly immersed aren't too hard to fix.
I won't spoil anything here, but Patrick Süskind delivers a truly brilliant narrative fiction throughout this book, and I would urge anyone who enjoys fiction that truly does "Show" how a huge variety of objects and things smell, and their relations to human behaviours and the other collection of senses. It was a wonderful 2 days I spent immersed in the book.
Also as a note for people reading, I didn't watch the movie version of it. I may or may not watch it... if I do, it's unlikely I'll post back here about it unless it's something worth talking about. I find personally, the vast majority of Movies don't really do much for me. They have to cover too much in too little ground, and this is made painfully obvious by anyone watching Bladerunner and comparing it against its source material "Do androids dream of electric sheep", although Bladerunner stands up on its own legs for its own merits.
I'll also note here, I read a translation of the book translated by John E. Woods into English from its original German. Doesn't mean too much, but if you do read it or acquire it through some means, make sure you get a decent translation.
It's a good fiction and a good time. I recommend it.
Written March 7th 2021.