Carol's Reviews > The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
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Jul 14, 10

Read from July 08 to 14, 2010

Flavia de Luce tells her story which opens with her having been gagged and locked inside a dark closet by her sisters, Ophelia and Daphne. Daphne is thirteen and Ophelia is seventeen and Flavia is only eleven. Flavia is a fascinating character. She spends hours in her chem. lab on the top floor of the east wing of the family mansion, Buckshaw. Flavia specializes in poisonous chemical combinations. She taught herself the considerable chemistry knowledge she has by starting with Intro. to Chemistry that she found among the chemical library that was left there by Uncle Tarquin de Luce. As a form of revenge, Flavia now inserts a bullet shaped pellet into "Feely's" lipstick. Before I can
find out what happens to Feely's lips, their father, Colonel de Luce finds a dead snipe on the doorstep with a postage stamp impaled upon its bill. The dead bird is only a precursor of more dire events to come.
This is a delightful book in its language and mixture of chemical ecstacy that author, Alan Bradley, dangles enticingly through its paragraphs. Of course, there is the participation in the family by Mrs. Mullet who makes pus-like custard pies that everyone hates. As with most domestics, Mrs. Mullet runs her mouth about occurences in the household exactly when she should keep it shut.
The story is fast paced. Just when you are surprised by something, Flavia explains an event from the past or runs into another colorful character. It just has an interesting movement to it. Bradley is seventy writing about a girl who is eleven living in 1950's England. He uses a young girl because he says, "no one listens to what children say or thinks that children are going to use the information that they hear adults drop." This is the means by which Flavia is able to insinuate herself into British homes and hear things that investigators cannot.
Flavia is delightful and gutsy and every girl should have a large dose of Flavia within. I am wondering though, how much of a dark side will emerge from this kid as the author hints that she knows how to enact revenge. It is easy to see how
this author was given a major writing award and engendered much talk internationally about this book after revealing only fifteen pages. I hope that I remain as in love with this book throughout because Bradley has penned a second and has plans for more. One thing for sure, Flavia is said to be eleven years old, but she is absolutely like no eleven year old you have ever met. I can see these books becoming a series as popular as Harry Potter, but for adults. I can see this book as a movie, but I can't imagine any child actor playing this part.
Flavia is an incredibly precocious girl. She has the best talks she has ever had with her father while he's locked up. She names her bike and travels the town looking for clues and taking huge risks. The hobbies of stamp collecting, magic
tricks and chemistry keep this story alive. The story has a serious nature, but is told in an almost tongue-in-cheek tone and is funny. I love it! The second book is called, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag. It is about a dual murder connected to the theme of puppetry. Sweetness is as close to being creatively brilliant as any contemporary novel I have read. I give this one five stars plus!
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message 1: by Joanna (new) - added it

Joanna Sounds interesting!I am definitely putting this on my to-read list.


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