Saturday, January 30, 2010

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

Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Crime/Mystery
Publisher: Orion Books, 2009


Set in an English rural village in 1950 this novel really captures the feeling of that time. It brought back memories of my own late 50's girlhood ..........a time when one could roam the neighbourhood unsupervised in perfect safety .........pretelevision days when imagination and a bicycle could take you wherever you wanted to go.

Early one morning eleven-year-old Flavia stumbles across a dying man in the family garden cucumber patch.
This resourceful young lady barely bats an eyelid - "I wish I could say I was afraid but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened in my entire life".

Did this stranger die from eating from eating a stolen piece of the housekeeper's much loathed custard pie?
Could he be connected to the dead snipe with the postage stamp impaled on his beak that was left lying on the doorstep?
When her father becomes the centre of a murder enquiry Flavia sets out to solve the mystery!

The plot has enough pace to keep the pages turning with the added interest of learning something about philately and there is a great cast of well developed and supporting characters. But the star of the show is undoubtedly Miss Flavia Sabina de Luce. How could I not fall in love with someone who thinks .."Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week".
She's also crazy about chemistry and spends hours in the old Victorian laboratory in her home - her experiments will prove to be invaluable in helping her solve the mystery.

Flavia is intelligent , independent and very perceptive.........she's also extremely funny! You have to admire the spirit and courage with which she confronts the world because underneath the bravado is a lonely, motherless child crying out for the love and attention she doesn't receive from her father and older sisters.
"It is as unlikely that one de Luce would ever tell another that they loved them as it is is that one peak in the Himalayas would bend over and whisper sweet nothings to an adjacent crag".
She is one of those children often described as 'older than their years' which removed the early misgivings I had that eleven seemed a bit too young to be capable of what she was achieving.

It's fun , it's entertaining and I romped through it with enormous pleasure. I hope to meet Miss Flavia Sabina de Luce again in the future.

What's in a Name 3 Challenge

1. A book with food in the title.

Suspense/Thriller Challenge


  1. I love the way you described Flavia's character -- I am sold! I keep reading magnificent reviews of this book, and today I read that a sequel will be released soon.

  2. I've seen this book come up a lot but didn't think it would interest me. From your review I'm sold on it, too!

  3. I love the sound of this and have just added it to my wishlist...thanks!

  4. I'm delighted to hear a sequel is forthcoming.
    I hope you'll all read and enjoy the adventures of young Flavia as much as I did.

  5. I just skimmed your review because I really want to tread this one. So glad you liked it, because it makes me all that much more excited about reading it.

  6. Beth & Monique - hope you'll read and enjoy as much as I did.

  7. I loved this book and have just got my hands on the second in the series...and good news, he is apparently working on the third right now! I've saved the sequel for when I had time to read with the proper attention...which luckily will be this weekend. :)

  8. I'm looking forward to reading the second one but its not on my library shelves yet.

  9. Great review - I can't wait to read this one too!

  10. I'm sure you'll enjoy it - lots of fun!