Magpie'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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's review
Mar 04, 2012

really liked it
Read from February 23 to March 03, 2012

I typically need one other ingredient (history, fantasy, SF) before I'll read a mystery. "Sweetness" has History and it's from an era I love but haven't read enough of: the late 1940s/early 1950s. The protagonist is an extremely precocious 11 year old girl with a deep love of chemistry, adding YA and Science elements for me too!

Although, I had to keep focusing myself on the year 1950, since being set in a large country house in Britain, the setting kept slipping earlier in my head. The author valiantly threw film and popular culture references at me, but to no avail, he couldn't shake the post-WWI haze that settled over my mental impression.

Right - the book. It was a charming read. Flavia is crazy, dimensional, brilliant, brave and silly - clearly the draw of this book (and series). Nice glimpses of the deeper relationships and issues in her family that reveal themselves gently over the course of the story - in fact I thought this was more skillfully done than the actual mystery was.

Maybe I need to read more mysteries, but I found I glazed over some of the revelations. Occasionally, I'd think: 'Didn't we already address this?' Or: 'I thought you said you had it all figured out now, Flavia?... Twice.' Or: 'I'm lost... skipping ahead now.'

In the end, I read it all eagerly and considered it time well-spent.


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