Three different groups of people are trying to develop the same basic perfume-- one is a major fragrance house in Paris, one a small perfume shop in New Orleans, and one is a waitress with a small apartment in Seattle. Each group believes it can make a fortune off the scent if they can perfect it. Interwoven with these stories we find the ongoing adventures of an 8th century Bohemian king. It's hard to say too much without giving away the more intriguing points of the plot, but in short, the book is about how these fragmented stories come together.
This is the second Tom Robbins novel I've read, the first being Still Life with Woodpecker. I would say that I liked it better than Still Life, but it had the same basic problem-- the book's conclusion was rather disappointing. It's a great book, cleverly written without being too much in awe of its own clever nature, but the last 30 pages or so seemed to erase much of the building suspense. Instead of coming to a head, the action just...petered out. It was a very enjoyable read, though, and a deeply thought out book-- I'd recommend it to just about anybody. 8 out of 10.