Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born to an unwilling mother amidst putrefying fish guts and human excrement. But although she is Hanged only a few weeks later for his attempted murder, the stench of his society does not rub off on young Grenouille. Soon it is apparent that he is without body odour. Wet nurses shun him and a Priest is terrified by him. Shunned by all around him Grenouille grows up a socially stunted young man with an appetite for smells. For you see, Grenouille has the most sensitive nose in all of France. He can discern aromas from across Paris, sniff out scents with a voracious and discerning palette. As he grows he uses this talent to become a virtuoso Perfumeur, but must struggle to cope with his own inhumanity, for who can be human without a scent of their own? What starts off as a quest to possess every smell in existence soon turns into a ravenous hunger for perfection – whatever the cost.
An olfactory tour de force through the sights and smells of Eighteenth Century France with a brilliantly complex mass murderer who elicits disgust and sympathy in equal measure.