My Monday: Jitterbug Perfume

As promised, I’m going to do something a little different on Mondays for a while. I’m going to hope that you’ll indulge me as I share some of my golden oldies, my personal favourites, the books on my bookshelf whose covers are most likely falling off their fronts…

Tonight’s pick as an object is certainly looking a little worse for wear, but only because it is so well loved. It’s my copy of Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume, my number one.

I’m a big fan of Robbins, as anyone who knows me can attest to, but this book is by far my favourite.

“Jitterbug Perfume is an epic…which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn’t conclude until nine o’clock tonight (Paris time).

It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle.

The bottle is blue, very, very old and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god.

If the liquid in the bottle actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left.”

In my opinion, Jitterbug Perfume is Robbin’s best written novel, and the story is absolutely magical. The storytelling itself is complex and quirky (as you might expect) and the tale is visceral, romantic, sexed-up and beautifully mythical. And, of course, in true Robbin’s style it’s just a little bit ridiculous.

The novel is about Alobar and Kundra’s search for eternal youth, and at the same time about Priscilla’s pursuit of the perfect fragrance. And, let’s be blunt, it’s about lust. It’s about Pan, and funk and sex all around. It was quite an education, reading this book as a teenage girl, I can tell you.

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve stopped looking for that embossed blue bottle in every op shop and flea market I’ve visited since reading this book. Many years ago now, I actually bought a tiny little bottle, with a stopper on a string that very nearly matched the description, opening it from time to time in the hope of a hint of Jasmine.

I know it’s random, but I still wish that I liked beets (the true hero of this story) just a little bit more than I do and even after all these years I’m fairly sure I’ve still got a crush on King Alobar.

As with many of his novels, Robbins’ skilfully intertwines four distinct stories in this epic – their connection being revealed slowly throughout the novel. It’s a most satisfying read and you really come to feel for the characters and their personal quests, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.

All of Tom Robbins’ books are worth reading, Still Life with Woodpecker is super-cheeky and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is probably the best place to start if you’ve not read Robbins’ before. This said, as I mentioned earlier, Jitterbug Perfume is by far my favourite and the one I keep going back to.

What’s your cheeky favourite book?

Buy your own copy of Jitterbug Perfume at the TBYL Store!

Join us:   Facebook  and  Twitter