The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley

Doubleday Canada, 2009

Flavia de Luce is the funniest, most precocious little protagonist I’ve read since Scout Finch. And this book, the first in a series, has won over so many fans that she now has her own website!

Set in 1950s England, Flavia, an aspiring chemist of eleven years old, takes it upon herself to solve the mystery behind a dead body she found in her family’s cucumber patch. Determined to find the answers before the police inspector already on the job, she embarks on a secret quest all around town, into the library newspaper reserves, to the candy shop, to the county jail, and an old school. Much time is also spent in her very own laboratory, located in its very own wing in Buckshaw, the de Luce mansion. The adventures she gets up to are hilarious, I can tell you that much. I have to say I’m quite glad this book is only the beginning. Aside from Flavia, who is so funny in her lack of age eleven-ness, the characters in this book are all very distinct and interesting in their own way. While Flavia’s passion is chemistry, her two sisters also have interesting hobbies. Daphne likes reading, and Ophelia likes herself – but they both also like to gang up on Flavia and take revenge at every opportunity. The book starts and ends with the two parties forever retaliating against the other for the most previous heinous act. After having ridden her bike (affectionately named “Gladys”) all over town one day, Flavia trudges into the house only to find her two sisters crying on each other’s shoulders. “We thought you had drowned!” Says Ophelia. “If only it were so!” (This is a paraphrase, but you get the picture). Turns out they weren’t crying about Flavia’s absence, after all. And that pretty much sums up the relationships there. I’m curious to see where they go in further books.

Darkly comedic, well-written, well-paced, and with distinct voice and style, this is a good quick read. I laughed out loud several times, and reveled in several “aha!” moments as the story unfolded. What more should I say? If you haven’t already read it, I give this one a big recommend. Thanks to Tami for recommending it to me!

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4 responses

  1. Pingback: Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom, Susin Nielson | A Novel Thing

  2. Pingback: Let me fill you in… | A Novel Thing

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