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Free People Book Club: Jitterbug Perfume, Part 1

At the start of Jitterbug Perfume, on the page in between the dedication and the start of the saga, the author included four quotes. These quotes seem strange in proximity with each other, but they tell you a great deal about the journey you are about to embark on and I felt the need to include them here.

“The distinctive human problem from time immemorial has been the need to spiritualize human life, to lift it onto a special immortal plane, beyond the cycles of life and death that characterize all other organisms.”

– Ernest Becker

“The history of civilization is the story of man’s emancipation from a lot that was harsh, brutish, and short. every step of that upward climb to a sophisticated way of life has been paralleled by a corresponding advance in the art of perfumery.”

– Eric Maple

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light”

– Dylan Thomas

“(And) always smell as nice as possible.”

– Lynda Barry

This tale takes place in four “locations” – or points in time, I should say.  Present-day Seattle, New Orleans, Paris, and ancient Bohemia – and follows the characters in each of these places as their lives eventually converge.

It begins in ancient Bohemia, where a king named Alobar longs to escape his fate, which is that upon the growth of his first gray hair – a symbol of aging – he will be killed and replaced.

“In those days the Earth was still flat, and people dreamed often of falling over edges.”


“Upon those travelers who make their way without maps or guides, there breaks a wave of exhilaration with each unexpected change of plans.”


“The sky was a velvety black paw pressing on the white landscape with a feline delicacy, stars flying like sparks from its fur.”


“The eclipse…it was probably the most real thing I’ve ever seen, but it was also like a dream. You know what I mean? Real and unreal, beautiful and strange, like a dream.  It got me high as a kite, but it didn’t last long enough. It ended too soon and left nothing behind.”


“Bones are patient. Bones never tire nor do they run away… Water is like flesh. Water will not stand still.  It is always off to somewhere else; restless, talkative, and curious.  Even water in a covered jar will disappear in time.  Flesh is water. Stones are like bones.  Satisfied. Patient. Dependable.”


“Perhaps the most terrible (or wonderful) thing that can happen to an imaginative youth, aside from the curse (or blessing) of imagination itself, is to be exposed without preparation to the life outside his or her own sphere – the sudden revelation that there is a there out there.”


click on images for sources.

are you guys reading along? leave your thoughts in the comments!

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alexxandra -July 25, 2011, 4:59PM

just bought the book today…ill dive in tonight :)

Anonymous -July 25, 2011, 5:33PM

The greatest book of all time

Jen -July 25, 2011, 5:46PM

Definitely one of the best books I have ever read!!

Taylor -July 25, 2011, 6:04PM

Started it two nights ago…it’s going to take me probably fifty pages to get into it…hope it is as good as everyone says it is!
I love the pictures you put with these quotes!

fp julia -July 25, 2011, 6:08PM

taylor – trust me, it will! it took me a bit to get into it too :)

angie -July 25, 2011, 9:36PM

it makes me hungry for beets and wanting to smell jasmine

BohoQueen -July 25, 2011, 10:50PM

How far along should we be by the next post on it? I haven’t started it yet!! xoxo

Movy -July 26, 2011, 11:29PM

Thank you for suggesting this book! Can’t wait to get it and read it! xoxo

fp julia -July 29, 2011, 10:39AM

i’ll give you guys a couple weeks before the next post :)

alejandra -August 21, 2011, 2:45PM

who is the author of this book? and where could i go about finding it?

Anonymous -September 10, 2011, 6:08PM

I just discovered your blog a few days ago and have been going through all the posts because they are everything and more. Subtle yet profound. My deepest gratitude

Amy S. -October 11, 2011, 11:34AM

Jitterbug Perfume has been an amazing journey thus far. I am just a couple of chapters away from the end, and not ready for it to be over. I shall miss this read.

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