Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Published: 1984

Genre: fiction with a hint of science fiction/fantasy

Length: 342 pages

Setting: various times and places on Earth

Interest: It was recommended by a friend.

Summary: There are two separate stories that intersect at the end. Alobar is a Germanic King in a tribe that kills the King when he shows signs of age. Alobar objects to death and he sets off on a journey to extend his life as long as possible. On the way, he’s joined by Kudra, who becomes his wife. They meet the god Pan, who’s slowly wasting away as the world is civilized. Alobar and Kudra devise a plan to take Pan to America to revive him with wilderness, but they need a perfume to mask his earthy stench. They create K23, but the bottle is lost off the boat in the New Orleans harbor. It is found hundreds of years later by a perfumier who tries to recreate the perfume. Eventually, Alobar shares the secret of the perfume and his extended life with a select group of people.

Final thoughts: An interesting story with a fascinating premise behind death – it’s just a habit that can be broken by an individual who’s able to combine wisdom and joy. The story reads like a literary fiction book, but the nearly eternal life of Alobar turns it into science fiction, and the mystical journey of Kudra turns it into fantasy. The perfume theme throughout the story added a unique element to the story, and became an important driver to the plot and the extension of life. It was significant that Pan had a rather nasty smell. It’s definitely an adult book, though, because sex is another element of longevity.

Title comes from: The Bandaloop jitterbug was a dance developed towards the end of the story to promote longevity. The K23 perfume was also a major plot point.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 13/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and an R in the Alphabet Soup Author Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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