A couple of days ago my friend, and blogger posted a lovely Red Velvet Cupcake recipe, containing beets. You should visit Fae’s blogs she is terrific! The beets reminded me of this awesome book. Real metaphors for life and mortality.
A powerful and righteous 8th century king named Alobar narrowly escapes regicide at the hands of his own subjects, as it is their custom to kill the king at the first sign of aging. After fleeing, no longer a king but a simple peasant, he travels through Eurasia, and eventually meets the goat-god Pan, who is slowly losing his powers as the world turns toward Christianity. In India, he meets a girl, Kudra, who goes on to become his wife. As with most of Robbins’ couples, their mutual libido is enormous, and their love quite like something out of a fairy tale.
After an encounter with a mysterious group known as “The Bandaloop Doctors,” Alobar is set down the path towards eternal life, which, according to Robbins, can be attained by a consistent ritual of controlled breath work, simple eating, sex, and bathing in extremely hot water. Alobar and Kudra, successful in their immortality, travel about Europe until the 17th century, when they attempt a sort of new transcendental meditation and become separated into different astral planes.
Meanwhile, in present-day, a “genius waitress” named Priscilla struggles with a difficult job in a low-end Mexican restaurant. Priscilla is an amateur perfumer, and is obsessed with trying to locate the base note in recreating a fragrance, something she believes will be almost magical, from a three-hundred-year-old perfume bottle in her possession. While dealing with this, she juggles the unwanted advances of a lesbian co-worker, has a brief affair with an eccentric millionaire obsessed with eternal life, and contemplates the mysterious deliveries of beets to her apartment.
In New Orleans, Prisilla’s stepmother, the Madame Devalier, a once successful perfumer, is also working to recreate the same fragrance as Priscilla, after her assistant, V’lu re-liberated the ancient bottle . Madame Devalier is intent on restoring her name in the business, and discontinuing the production items one might construe as shady. She seeks something magical using the ultra ingredient Jamaican jasmine supplied by a mysterious man with the helmet of swarming bees, Bingo Pajama.
In Paris, the LeFever Parfumaire is concerned about their eccentric leader, Marcel, who equates smell as the most important factor in the forward movement of the evolutionary process. After witnessing an eclipse, he is obsessed with his own scent.
The story lines eventually converge into a climax in New Orleans, with a brief stop in another dimension.
The main message is summarized in the dying words of Albert Einstein, spoken in Alobar’s 8th century Bohemian dialect Erleichda, loosely translated as “lighten up”.