Review – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

I seem to have hit on a recurrent reading theme of late – that of the England of a bygone era, The Legacy, Mr Rosenblum’s List and now Alan Bradley’s “cozy” crime mystery set in the 1950s.  It would be an understatement to say that the characters are shy and retiring – quite the opposite!  Our narrator is the almost eleven year old, Flavia de Luce, who lives at Buckshaw (crumbling country pile) with her widowed father (morose and reclusive) and her two older sisters Daphne (Daffy) and Ophelia (Feely). 

There appears to be little or no parental discipline and the children are left to their own devices, in Flavia’s case, to hone her investigative skills in a fully equipped Victorian chemical laboratory which is handily located in their house.  Such an avid interest in chemistry proves very useful when Flavia discovers a body in the cucumber patch and her father is accused of murder.  Can Flavia save the day?  Will her father’s interest in philately be his downfall?

Okay, I know it sounds a bit like Enid Blyton on acid but it’s slightly more complicated than that.  At the risk of overusing an adjective, this is another “charming” tale.  If you’re not fond of child narrators, avoid like the plague! Flavia is one of those marmite literary characters, you’ll either love her or loathe her – she’s extremely precocious, ridiculously bright and bursting with enthusiasm…lashing of ginger beer anyone?   I have been beguiled by her to the extent that I’m now engrossed in the next instalment of her adventures – “The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag” (marvellous titles!).  May we have many more “ripping yarns” from the pen of Mr Bradley.

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  1. SazzyMCH says:

    Spooky – this is what I’m reading too :) And in fact, on the “Your Current Book” thread on RiSi, “precociousness” was one of the words I used to describe it! I’m not very far in, but I love Flavia already……….

  2. admin says:

    Twilight Zone, Sarah! I really liked it and am now half way through the next in the series, very different from what I usually read but the library came up trumps with getting in both books at once for me!

  3. Rachel says:

    Aww, this sounds cute! Enid Blyton actually appeals to me, rather than putting me off. May have to add it to my wishlist…

  4. admin says:

    I got both from the library Rachel and the second book was just as good – anxiously awaiting a third book now!

  5. SazzyMCH says:

    Finished it today – brilliant! I can just see her (if she was 11 today) walking around saying “Whatever” to all those daft and silly policemen!

  6. admin says:

    I think you’d strangle her if she was your own daughter, Sarah! However, she’s a fabulous literary character – you’ll love the next one in the series.

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