Advanced Search Module


Close Search

The Girl Who Sniffed Books (L’annusatrice di Libri)



Original Language: Italian | 416 pp. | February 2019

2 Seas represents: Dutch and Nordic rights

Rights sold: Spain, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia

Shortlisted for the European Union Prize for Literature

Over 7,000 copies sold

English sample available


If one could read with the sense of smell, what would the smell of books be? What perfume would I Promessi Sposi have? And The Thousand and One Nights? The novel by Desy Icardi, with compelling style and lively irony, tells us about books and love for literature through the story of a very special and unusual reader.

Turin, 1957. Adelina is fourteen years old and lives with her aunt Amalia, an icy and detached woman, who hides a past as soubrette living between stages and night clubs in the 1930s. At school Adelina is the laughing stock of the classroom because of her reading and memory problems. Her performance, however, will improve when she discovers her hidden natural talent: the extraordinary ability to read with the sense of smell, which Adelina experiences in the pages of great classics of world literature, perceiving the memories and suggestions of the previous readers. A talent which soon becomes a threat: the father of her friend Luisella, a notary involved in obscure trafficking, will try to use her to decode the well-known Voynich manuscript, “the world’s most mysterious book in the history of mankind”.

If the thirst for knowledge of the notary and the secrets of the inexplicable manuscript risk to put Adelina’s life in jeopardy, this experience will give her back the insatiable pleasure of reading.

In a game of literary references, which fascinates the reader, the author cites some of the most famous masterpieces of literature: from the Decameron to Don Quixote, from Moby Dick to Jane Eyre and Bel-Ami, interwoven in the narration with intelligence and wit.

Desy Icardi is born in Turin, where she lives and works, she is a corporate trainer, actress and copywriter. In 2004 she graduated from Dams and since 2006 she ha been working as a stand-up comedian under the pseudonym “la Desy”; she is also the author of comedies.