Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley
370 pages

I've been getting a great deal of reading done as I try to relax and heal my back.  It's not easy for me to lay around all day but I'm having a fantastic time finishing so many books.  Cleaning my house will just have to wait.

Languishing on my pile since last summer was Alan Bradley's novel and winner of the Debut Dagger Award, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  I'm done now and so happy to have finally read it.


In his wickedly brilliant first novel, Debut Dagger Award winner Alan Bradley introduces one of the most singular and engaging heroines in recent fiction: eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. It is the summer of 1950—and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia’s family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “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 to me in my entire life.”

(from GoodReads)

My thoughts:

I'm not a huge fan of mysteries because well, they often scare me too much.  This one was more of a thoughtful mystery with a very entertaining heroine.  Flavia is a rule breaker, a curious adventurer who doesn't really listen to anyone else but her own instinct.  Harriet, her mother, was  killed in a mountaineering accident when Flavia is just one yet the connection between mother and daughter is strong.   She doesn't understand her two sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, who lay about reading and weeping all day long and her father has never fully recovered from his wife's death and spends his day moping about the house as well.  Flavia seems to breathe new life into her family as she races about on Harriet's old bike trying to fit all the odd clues together.  

My favorite quote:

Closed? Today was Saturday.  The library hours were ten o'clock to two-thirty, Thursday through Saturday; they were clearly posted in the black-framed notice beside the door.  Had something happened to Miss Pickery? 
I gave the door a shake, and then a good pounding.  I cupped my hands to the glass and peered inside, but except for a beam of sunlight falling through motes of dust before coming to rest upon shelves of novels there was nothing to be seen.
"Miss Pickery!" I called, but there was no answer.
"Oh, scissors!" I said again.  I should have to put off my researches until another time.  As I stood outside in Cow Lane, it occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
No...eight days a week.    (57-58)
I love any great quote that highlights the library and the use of the word "scissors" as an explicative makes perfect sense!!  There is a second Bradley book featuring Flavia de Luce, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag #2-the title is interesting and I know Flavia will shine again.
4/5 stars
adult mystery fiction

Other reviews here:

FyreFly's Review
Stainless Steel Droppings

My back is still pinched and my thoughts are scattered but as this is a book that counts for Reading from my own shelves challenge I wanted to write my thoughts out and pass the book on.  My chiropracter's wife wants to read it so I'm happily passing it on at my appointment tomorrow morning.


bookmagic said...

I adored this one and the sequel. I love Flavia

Stephanie said...

I too normally avoid mysteries, but it looks interesting. I will add it to my TBR list. Thanks!!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I liked this one a lot (Flavia really). Book #2 is good as well.

Fyrefly said...

THanks for the link! I really enjoyed this one but still have not gotten around to picking up the sequel... maybe this fall?

Jenners said...

To me, this book was so much more about the wonderful character of Flavia and less about the mystery. Isn't Flavia a delight!?