Friday, December 11, 2009

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie



I mentioned in a previous post that I was reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, the wonderful debut novel by Canadian author, Alan Bradley. Thanks Kyusi reader for recommending it. It's a delightful little book though it did drag a bit towards the end. Although the first half of the book was more enjoyable, I still think it's a fun read mostly because of its quirky and precocious 11-year-old protagonist, Flavia de Luce. She's a mix of Harriet the Spy, Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes.

The setting is the English countryside in 1950. Flavia, a budding chemist, lives with her reclusive widowed father and two sisters in a crumbling country manor. She  sets out to solve a murder mystery after discovering a dead body in her garden and  a dead bird with a rare stamp impaled on its beak. What follows are red herrings, clues, chemistry experiments, poisons, bumbling villagers and interesting factoids about philately (the study of stamps). Though you can guess the murderer a mile away, all is forgiven because the book is so original. Bradley also uses a generous amount of similes and metaphors and from any other writer this would be considered quite weak or pretentious but he somehow makes it all work in a charming way.

I remembered a piece of sisterly advice, which Feely once gave Daffy and me:
"If ever you're accosted by a man," she'd said, "kick him in the Casanovas and run like blue blazes!"
Although it had sounded at the time like a useful bit of intelligence, the only problem was that I didn't know where the Casanovas were located.
I'd have to think of something else.

This is a very refreshing and enjoyable read and the good news is there's more Flavia de Luce mysteries to come. Have any of you read this and what did you think? Are you looking forward to the next one?

18 comments:

  1. I loved this story as well. It was "refreshing" as you put it. Looking forward to the next release.

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  2. I read this a few months ago and my thoughts (read them on my reading blog "Tessa Just Read") were identical to yours. The sibling rivalry grated a bit, however. But that's just a quirky quirk of mine. All that said, I will definitely give the next Flavia mystery a try.

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  3. This seems great- I should probably try reading it. I love both Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes and a mix of them both sounds fascinating!

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  4. I have never heard of this book but it sounds perfect for my Christmas holiday reading pile - thanks for flagging it up!

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  5. You had me at Harriet the Spy!

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  6. I want to read this so much! My bookshop keeps saying they have it, and then nobody can find it in the shop, and they won't order it for me because they claim they already have it in stock. Grrrrrrrr.

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  7. I liked the excerpt from the book. It's funny.

    Between your review and KyusiReader's, I'm convinced I that I should move up this book in my wishlist for 2010.

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  8. I have been in the most dreadful reading slump for the past few weeks and haven't been in the mood to read anything! But this sounds like it could be the panacea to my malaise as it sounds fun and engaging and not too challenging. I just need something to kick start me back into the reading zone!

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  9. I still haven't read this. I keep seeing wonderful things about it everywhere. I really need to find a copy soon.

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  10. Great review! Sounds like such a wonderful read. Its on my TBR list and now I can't wait to start it. Thanks!

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  11. A lot of people have written good reviews of this book. It sounds fun. I'll have to finally break down and check it out - sometimes I like to wait until the hype about a book has died down, but that's just silly! :)

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  12. I loved this book--can't wait until the next one comes out!

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  13. I loved this book and Flavia for me made the whole thing work. Interesting then that the first lines of the sequel are her describing how it is to be lying dead in a churchyard... looks like the next one will be even more thrilling and intriguing.

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  14. I haven't read it yet, but when I asked for mystery recommendations earlier this year quite a few people suggested this. So it's on the list! It does sound wonderfully quirky and charming.

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  15. Thanks for all your comments. It's definitely an enjoyable read for the holidays. I'll definitely be buying the next in the series.

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  16. Hi, Mrs. B! I'm glad you liked this book! I'm really looking forward to the next one!

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  17. Hi Mrs B, I wanted to email you but couldn't find your email address. Will you kindly drop me a line at dreamsongpoem at gmail dot com? Thanks!

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  18. I've been wanting to read this since I saw it reviewed on Carl's blog for the RIP IV. The cover you pictured is a new one for me, I've only seen the green cloth one, but it looks like such a great read.

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