”How oft did I recall the odour of ale on a barmaid’s breath, the smell of baking bread on St. Giles Street when dawn blushes like an unclothed virgin and huswifes sweep the cobbles, yea and Mistress Felsham’s bawdy-house wherein for a guinea my ardour was wont to sate itself in fleshly fragrance which outstripped the seraglio of the heathen Turk. Thus within my litter did I pass long hours sighing for Oxford, nor was there solace save in sleeping or in nosing the treasures of my portmanteau. For-I know not how it was-but my fancy had long been inflamed by smells, in such wise that a harlot(even though she be otherwise most grievous to look upon), yet if she were possess’d of a good ripe smell and were ready for the sport, I did find her greatly to my liking. My cousin Belinda, by way of example, did have a schoolgirl’s wan and soapish smell, the which was very indifferent by itself but when blended with the robust odours of the barn wherein we lay, bravely spiced the pleasure of her taking. These smell, I say, held such soveraign sway o’er my manhood that even soiled stockings and pettycoats, the which I kept in my portmanteau against the hap of abstinence, could very well-so long as they exhaled some goodly savour-excite the gratification of my ardour.”
When I was going to college in Tucson I lived just off campus in a two bedroom stucco adobe house and was part of the mass migration every morning of students walking to class. I first heard, or should I say overheard, about the clothesline bandit when I was following behind this gaggle of coeds who were talking and laughing about their missing underwear. In Tucson because of the steady heat index all year long very few of us bothered to own a dryer, if we had access to a clothesline, because clothes outside for ten to fifteen minutes became bone dry. What a great place for an individual with a particular fetish to set up shop. Just to relieve your mind they did catch the panty raider and according to my sources found piles of panties on his bed so that he could sleep, blissfully I would hope, surrounded by his purloined swag. After reading this book I wondered if he would have much rather have snatched these delicates from the laundry baskets before their precious scent had been decimated by detergent and water.
The English lordship the Earl of Griswold, our villain/hero, who has a scent fetish that so dominates his actions that he reminded me of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from the excellent novel [b:Perfume: The Story of a Murderer|343|Perfume The Story of a Murderer|Patrick Süskind|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328815062s/343.jpg|2977727], finds himself in a bit of trouble. He has assaulted the maidenhead of his dear cousin Belinda leaving her with a bun in the oven. Her brother Lord Fawncey, to salvage the family honor, challenges the Earl to a duel. The Earl wins the duel blinding his cousin in the process, and yet; as they say, sometimes you win to lose. His father rather annoyed with the whole commotion banishes his heir to some heathen tropics. There Griswold is almost overcome with the juicy emanations of the native women. He comes away with an elixir of croakadells that gives him immortality. Immortality has a price
Not without side effects.
On his return to England he has several problems. His pious brother is attempting to usurp his position in his father’s affections. Not difficult since Griswold spends most of his time in pursuit of pleasure and isn’t available to be his father’s beck and call man. He does take a moment to tumble his brother’s wife...well...because she was there. The Earl was morphing
The book flows between the 17th century and 2007. We meet the Frobin/Frobey family who learn the art of grafting using a special tonic that allows their transplants to stay planted. The elder Frobin, Meister Gerhard proves to be indispensable to the English Earl as parts of his body begin to morph into something better suited to a swamp and other parts start to slough off. Employing the help of a rather industrious young doctor named Josiah Fludd who has a penchant for pinching the recently deceased, they find enough body parts to keep the Earl looking reasonably...human. In 2007 Frobin’s descendents are still practicing the art of transplantation even though their IQs seem to have plummeted well below the waterline.
When someone in the family is in need of a body part they merely go trolling the roads looking for stranded motorists. Max Smedlow, a retired dentist, has the misfortune to run over a croakadell with his brand new BMW and accepts a ride from the local hicks. It doesn’t take long for Smedlow to realize he is in trouble from the tip of his toes to the top of his head as he discovers that the Frobey’s are looking at him as if he were a boosted car about to be parted out to keep a whole host of other cars running.
Dire circumstances indeed.
I was first attracted to this book for the excellent cover art. It put me in mind of [b:The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling|99329|The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling|Henry Fielding|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1311644178s/99329.jpg|1350343]. The plot is absolutely, deliciously, ludicrous and the characters are so bizarre they could have manifested out of a [a:Carl Hiaasen|8178|Carl Hiaasen|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1208367876p2/8178.jpg] novel. Once into the flow of the novel I couldn’t put it down. I sliced through most of it in an afternoon. His descriptions of people made me chortle. ”She had done up her hair in pigtails. She was wearing a red teddy which was unfortunately diaphanous. For he couldn’t help noticing that nevuses speckled her swollen udders-and that a bulging midriff with a convex navel slumped above her lilac garter belt. … It seemed to make matters worse that the woman herself was not in the least bit frightened. Instead, her vast thighs shook like puddings as she began to pace his prison on stilletto heels, smacking a black wire brush against the palm of her left hand.
“Now bend over, mister,” she said, “and drop yer panties.”