I saw the movie version of this novel when it came out and I don’t remember a thing about it. That was good because it meant I enjoyed the book a lot more. We are in the pre-revolution France and there’s a baby born who has no scent. We are told emphatically that his poop still smells, but rather that he exudes no scent otherwise. This will come up later as it turns out that the tradeoff for this is the very fine-tuned ability to have perfect smell (like perfect pitch, but smell. You get it). This ability along with being quite unhinged leads him eventually to murdering a woman in order to capture her “fatal” scent. This all takes him down a path of obsession looking for more and more exotic scents and working to become the most virtuosic perfume maker in the world.
I want to rate this both higher and lower for various reasons. Higher because of the absolutely wonderful sections of narration about the Paris perfume and scent industry 200+ years ago. It’s beautiful, it’s wild, it’s ecstatic writing at it’s very best. Even through translation, the passion of those sections are just gorgeous. Lower because I have zero zero zero idea what to do with this big ending. Not the end end, but right up to the end! I won’t tell you, but if you’ve read this book you know what I am talking about and if you do read this book, you’ll learn. I promise you won’t miss it.