Heidi'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
Jan 14, 2010

really liked it

Sometimes I wish I were British. Not for the food. Not for the fan-crazed soccer. And definitely not for the dental care. I wish it because Brits get to use words like cad and pell-mell in everyday conversation. I wish it because maybe, just maybe, the roots of my family tree would be intertwined with the likes of Shakespeare, Churchill or Rowling. Ahh, England. I wouldn’t want to eat my last meal there, but a summer of lit at Oxford would be pretty sweet.

But enough of my UK daydreams. You want to hear about the book.

It is a mystery set in the English countryside the summer of 1950 and stars a family of three daughters and their widowed stamp-collecting father. The story is told by daughter number 3 – Flavia – a mischievous and fearless 11 year-old girl who loves chemistry and tormenting her two older sisters. When she discovers the body of a man in their garden and he whispers his last dying word to her Flavia doesn’t shriek and run for the house. Instead she writes, “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 life.”

The book is deliciously British, steeped in colorful prose and rich with Shakespearean references. There were many sentences I read twice simply because I liked them so much. In fact, at times it was so well-written and sophisticated that I think the author forgot Flavia is a tweener who would never come up with this stuff; because of that and some general pet peeves I have with mysteries the book stops around 3.5/4 stars for me. Nonetheless, I’m still not surprised it won The Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award.

This book is a no-brainer for teenage girls who don’t mind heady vocabulary and can live without a love story. Flavia is smart and funny and the book is 100% clean. Your only concern should be that your daughter will start asking if she can study abroad in England. If it helps, I’ll gladly chaperone her.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Christy One more thing that we have in common my friend. You know what is even better that reading British Lit. is listening to it! Oh I wish I could talk like that just once in awhile.

Becky Have you ever considered a job as a book critic? You write so well and are very funny! Honestly, the plot doesn't sound like a book I would like, and yet I still find I want to read it now.

Keri Love the review Heidi! What a talented writer you are. I read The Help after your review and wasn't disappointed. I am definately putting this book on my to-read list.

Heidi Keri, if I could write like you organize dance festivals I'd have a best seller on my hands!

I'm glad you liked The Help - great book, huh. I don't think this one is as good plot-wise but the writing is so visual and British, and the character of Flavia so good, that I still think it's worth a read.

Christy If I could write like Heidi and organize like Keri I would have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Lucky for Obama all I'm really good at is reading.

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