Warning: file_get_contents(http://webservices.amazon.co.uk/onca/xml?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJSH3DK5MIJGR4HEA&AssociateTag=lasalpujarras-21&IdType=ASIN&IncludeReviewsSummary=True&ItemId=0141041153&Operation=ItemLookup&ResponseGroup=Large&Service=AWSECommerceService&Timestamp=2018-01-20T20%3A30%3A55Z&TruncateReviewsAt=1&Version=2011-08-01&Signature=OI0mWyrKbTLG7W%2Bq%2BCMFOFVXtUtQixieRAL76LR%2FQEc%3D) [function.file-get-contents]: failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! HTTP/1.1 503 Service Unavailable in /home4/danmyaz/public_html/classicbookclub/wp-content/plugins/amazon-product-in-a-post-plugin/inc/aws_signed_request.php on line 624

I found this quite an odd book altogether. It is quite disturbing and unsettling, yet I felt I had to read to the end to find out what would happen to the main character, Grenouille, as I couldn’t imagine what his ending would be. (I have to say also, the ending fitted with the rest of the book, ie disturbing and unsettling, and I definitely did not see that ending coming!)

The book tells the story of Grenouille, a Parisian with an amazing sense of smell. He is also an odd human being as he has no natural human smell of his own, a fact that causes people to treat him with suspicion and fear although they do not know exactly why. He is a persecuted man, abandoned and abused throughout his life. Yet he is so disgusting a character, that you cannot wish him well at all. I found this quite difficult to comprehend at first, as his history and the cruelty shown to him would normally make me want to support such a character and will him to succeed. But the author seems to want us to despise Grenouille; there is no sympathy shown to the character by the author at all, he is depicted almost as inhuman – a writing approach I found interesting and very different.

As Grenouille goes through his life he becomes obsessed with smell and the idea of possessing smells, leading to him killing young girls in order to extract their smell from them. He kills the girls partly to possess their smell and to understand it, but also in order to add to his collection of smells that he uses on himself to provide various disguises – he can have no smell at all and remain almost invisible to people, or he can make himself smell desirable and be loved by everyone he meets.

Although I can’t say I enjoyed reading the book, I was impressed by how cleverly the author managed to portray the smells; his descriptions of them are incredible and beautiful and convincing – I felt I could almost smell them coming off the page. Suskind is obviously an outstanding writer, but I found the book quite sick and sad and strange.