Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was a really unique reading experience for me.  Actually, it was a listening experience.  The main character, Flavia de Luce, is not your typical child.  She's a child prodigy in chemistry, specializing in poisons.  This precocious 11-year-old finds a dead body in the cucumber patch outside her window, and since her father is accused, she sets out to find the real killer, or find out why her father committed the crime.

The story takes place in 1950 in England, and involves stamp collecting, a long-ago suicide of her father's teacher, library research, climbing on roofs, and much more.  This story had me laughing out loud at some points because Flavia is so smart, that astonishing things come out of her mouth.  Some of the metaphors she uses are hilarious.  That's the problem with audio books -- I can't mark the passages to include in my review, and usually I'm driving so I can't write them down either.  You'll just have to see for yourself.

This novel isn't for everyone.  I don't think teens or children would like it, even though the main character is a child.  Some of the analogies that Flavia uses--references to chemicals, literature, and opera--I didn't really understand, but it didn't matter because you just understood that this child was exceptional.  The reader, Jayne Entwistle, did a wonderful job, using unique voices for each character, and giving Flavia the perfect precocious 11-year-old voice (all with English accents, of course.)

I recommend this for adults who like a light-hearted murder mystery with lot of detail and intrigue.  I didn't realize that this was Alan Bradley's first book (he wrote it when he was 70 years old) and 5 more Flavia de Luce mysteries are planned.  At least one of them has been published.  There is a nice author interview on, if you are interested.  I don't complete many series, but this one I might have to continue.

1 comment:

  1. I liked your review a lot! I actually read this one over the summer with my book club and if I recall correctly we all loved it! I agree that most kids probably wouldn't get into it much but it is still highly enjoyable!


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