Flavia de Luce has spent much of the first 11 years of her life plaguing her sisters and learning everything she can about chemistry in the old lab of her ancestral home. Her biggest challenges involve pranking her sisters, trying to capture her father’s attention, and avoiding the housekeeper’s less-than-stellar custard pies.
Until now. It’s strange enough when a dead bird appears in the kitchen with an old postage stamp impaled on its beak; but when Flavia stumbles across a dead man in the cucumber patch, all hell breaks loose.
Flavia’s father is blamed for the murder — and Flavia’s efforts to prove otherwise seem to only turn up more evidence in favor of his guilt. Can she solve the mystery in time…before the killer strikes again?
This series was recently recommended to me by Gloria, who describes the main character as “a precocious girl in 1950s rural England with a penchant for chemistry and stumbling upon corpses.” She had me at corpses.
Who couldn’t love Flavia? She’s strong-willed, smart (bordering on brilliant, really), and clearly loves her family despite her refusal to behave in a way that indicates so. She’s an interesting mix of childish impetuousness and mature Sherlockian sleuthing (I’m still trying to decide whether or not I like that she doesn’t act like a typical 11-year-old). She’s a feminist and little bit snarky too, which makes me love her even more.
The plot is perfectly deceptive, occasionally conforming to the reader’s predictions before zinging off in new and unexpected directions. It’s not always easy to tell which clues matter and which don’t, what they mean, or even who is trustworthy and who isn’t.
The simple 1950s setting contrasts astonishingly with the seriousness of the crime and the violence of its perpetrator.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a great beginning to what I’m sure is a great series. Five novels have been released so far, with a sixth in the works. Books are published in the UK first, however, so don’t read them too fast unless you don’t mind waiting for them to hop the pond.
4 thoughts on “Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”
Imagine my surprise finding my name in the middle of your review. So glad you’re reading the Flavia books. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I just finished listening to the latest in the series on audiobook. And no, I can’t wait; I snatch them up as soon as they come to the US. And then the long wait commences for the next installment. And let me just say, this next wait will seem like forever, since Mr. Bradley has left his readers with a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger. I shall say no more lest I spoil it for you.
I know what you mean about Flavia not behaving like a typical eleven year old. But then you have to consider that her life has been anything but typical. No mother’s guidance, an inaccessible father, sisters that tell her (when they’re being kind) that she was adopted. Often they tell her things like she was so ugly and horrible that she is the reason their mother left them. Who could be typical under these conditions.
I loved Flavia the moment I read she had given her beloved bicycle a name. (Gladys) When I was eleven, I named my bike Tonka Wakan. How Bradley gets into the head of a prepubescent girl is beyond me, and I don’t really care. I only know that he does it, and does it perfectly.
It’s such sweet torture, isn’t it, waiting for the next book? Makes life more exciting. 🙂 I’d heard about the cliffhanger — not what it was, just that there was one. I hate it when authors do that!
Your point about Flavia’s maturity level is well-put. I don’t think it detracts from my enjoyment, but I’m still pondering whether I like it or not. If that makes any sense.
Her naming her bike Gladys reminds me of Ramona Quimby and her doll, whom she named “Chevrolet” because it was the most beautiful word she’d ever heard. Kids are strange and wonderful indeed.
Thank you for recommending these wonderful books, Gloria, and for your conversation. Have a wonderful week!
Hi! I nominated you for a Liebster Award — it’s a sort of fun award/meme that’s passed around by bloggers. You can check it out here: http://buriedbeneathallthelies.com/2013/05/16/liebster-award-questions-answers-bookish-links/
Oh, how awesome! Thank you so much! I can’t wait to see your answers and get to work on my own. Happy Monday!