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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)
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Group reads > June 2020 - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

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Susan | 9426 comments Mod
Welcome to our June 2020 Group Read - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1) by Alan Bradley by Alan Bradley first published in 2009 and the first in the Flavia de Luce series.

It is June 1950 and a sleepy English village is about to be awakened by the discovery of a dead body in Colonel de Luce's cucumber patch. The police are baffled, and when a dead snipe is deposited on the Colonel's doorstep with a rare stamp impaled on its beak, they are baffled even more. Only the Colonel's daughter, the precocious Flavia -when she's not plotting elaborate revenges against her nasty older sisters in her basement chemical laboratory, that is - has the ingenuity to follow the clues that reveal the victim's identity, and a conspiracy that reached back into the de Luce family's murky past. Flavia and her family are brilliant creations, a darkly playful and wonderfully atmospheric flavour to a plot of delightful ingenuity.

Please do not post spoilers in this thread. Thank you.


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
Absolutely loved this - anyone else reading/read it? Anybody have a very different view? Looking forward to discussing this with our lovely group members.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 715 comments I read it a little early as well and also loved it; waiting till June to discuss.


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
Fair enough, Abigail. I just thought that, as it's the weekend, with lots of us online, it would be worth opening the discussion a couple of days early.


Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8425 comments Mod
Thanks for opening this up, Susan. I am currently listening to it on Audible and nearly halfway through, after reading the book a few years ago.

I enjoyed it first time but hadn't remembered it all that well. I enjoy the quirkiness of Flavia as a character.


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
Me too. I can't remember why I never read on, as I enjoyed it so much.


Roman Clodia | 734 comments I'll be making a start - I, typically, jumped into the series with later books so am looking forward to starting at the beginning. I just love Flavia, and the elegant writing.


Sandy | 2559 comments Mod
I've read the whole series, love them, and plan to reread this one soon. I was surprised to read in the introduction that Flavia's lab is in the basement. I always pictured a tower-like room.


Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1870 comments Yes, I was under the impression it was on the top floor


message 10: by Rosina (new)

Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 669 comments I haven't read this one, but did read several of the later books until I hit The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, which I felt devalued the interesting intelligence of Flavia.


Jessica | 351 comments I read this one last year and greatly enjoyed it! Didn't think I would at all, especially with the point of view of such a young main character, that preconception lead to the book being unread on my shelves for a long time... Turned out to be a favorite! Didn't go on to read the other books though


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 715 comments About the lab, I agree it was confusing; I'd have to read the book again to be certain it wasn't an error. My first impression was of her going upstairs in one wing of the house and entering a room with tall windows and lots of light, and then late in the book it was mentioned as being in the basement.


message 13: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary Sundell | 259 comments I just started this a few minutes ago. I picked up the audio book not long ago when it was on sale through Chirp Books.


message 14: by Susan in NC (last edited May 30, 2020 01:53PM) (new) - added it

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2412 comments I love and have read the entire series- I’ve got the physical book, am on wait list for audiobook from my library. I’m looking forward to rereading this one!

Don’t know about a basement lab, in later books she always referred to the fully stocked chemistry lab she inherited from Uncle Tarquin, who obviously shared her interest in chemistry! I’ve always gotten the impression Flavia’s bedroom is nearby, and she basically has her own private wing (hence, privacy for smelly and potentially dangerous experiments).


Icewineanne | 62 comments Read this a few years ago & loved it.
As for the lab, I was under the same impression as Susan in NC, that the lab was in a separate wing that no one visited......other than Flavia of course.


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
I was also surprised I enjoyed it. I rarely like books with young central characters. I suppose she is so precocious, she is more adult.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1132 comments Susan wrote: "Absolutely loved this - anyone else reading/read it? Anybody have a very different view? Looking forward to discussing this with our lovely group members."

Haven't read this now but a while ago--I loved it as well, as you said (and that was the impression I got too) she sounds more adult than an 11-year-old but still I enjoyed her 'voice'


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Jackie | 190 comments I am waiting on my copy from the library and hope to get it tomorrow. I am unfamiliar with this author so it's all brand new to me!


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
I will hope you enjoy it, Jackie.


message 20: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8425 comments Mod
If anyone isn't sure what a snipe looks like, here is a photo and a bit of information - they are wading birds:
https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildli...


Icewineanne | 62 comments Judy wrote: "If anyone isn't sure what a snipe looks like, here is a photo and a bit of information - they are wading birds:
https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildli..."


Thanks for the informative site Judy!


message 22: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8425 comments Mod
My pleasure, Anne!


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
Has the perfect beak :)


message 24: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8425 comments Mod
The jack snipe is apparently a smaller version!


message 25: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8425 comments Mod
I've just read to the end of Flavia's father's description of his schooldays - the feel of this reminded me a bit of the Harry Potter books.

I was interested in the quote which the inspector says to Flavia, which is the inspiration for the book's title. Just googled it and found the source:

"Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie, Who cares for all the crinkling of the pie?" - William King, The Art of Cookery (1708) .

I'm listening to the book on audible, and don't remember if this quote was said at the start!


Sandy | 2559 comments Mod
The quote was printed at the beginning of my kindle version.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 715 comments I must say the whole snipe thing was the one bit of this story that struck a false note to me. Because the details aren't fully revealed till we get about halfway in, I'll put this in spoiler tags: (view spoiler)


message 28: by Susan in NC (last edited Jun 03, 2020 08:01AM) (new) - added it

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2412 comments Abigail- I get what you’re saying, I’m a huge fan of this series and have read them all, just waiting on my library’s audiobook for a relisten. However, as a mystery buff, there is a point in The mystery of every book where I ask myself, “wait, what? Why? How did she get here or go there?” Then I realize the confrontation/conversation etc. is generally a contrived way to get this quirky person or bizarre plot twist introduced, and I just go with it for the fun of living in this brilliant, lonely, quirky 11-year-old’s head for a few hours! There are often plot holes you could ride Gladys through...


message 29: by Pamela (last edited Jun 03, 2020 08:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pamela (bibliohound) | 322 comments I started this a few years ago and abandoned it as I found Flavia too irritating. Precocious children are not my favourite thing :)

However, as I'm in a less grumpy frame of mind these days, I'm going to give it another try. Have a couple of other mysteries to finish first, so hope to start at the weekend.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 715 comments I agree, Susan! It helped introduce another pie-related (view spoiler), so I forgave the author and went on enjoying myself!


message 31: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary Sundell | 259 comments It is quite clear in chapter two that Flavia's lab is not in the basement as she goes upstairs to her lab.


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
I thought the lab was upstairs too.

Pamela, normally I also dislike books with precocious children. So difficult to get right, so, normally, author's just make them like adults, don't they?


message 33: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8425 comments Mod
I've just found an old interview with the author, Alan Bradley, from 2009 when the book came out. Interesting to see that this was his first novel, published when he was 70 and that he was 11 in 1950, like Flavia. This doesn't seem to me to have any spoilers in it.

https://www.straight.com/article-2037...


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 715 comments Thanks, Judy! I enjoyed that. Had a completely different idea of the author in my head than the real one. Just goes to show, anybody can write convincingly about anything. (It was perticularly encouraging to me because I'm an older woman who has just written a book about a 12-year-old boy.)


message 35: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8425 comments Mod
Glad you liked it, Abigail - I was really surprised to discover he wasn't a Brit, and in fact hadn't even been to the UK when he wrote the novel!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 715 comments Sounds as if, like me, he grew up in an anglophile household, being exposed to a lot of British lit and culture. I used British spelling in American schools until it was drummed out of me in high school, and even wrote my most recent novel in British spelling and usage because it felt more appropriate to the material. Many North Americans are more steeped in British culture than their own, albeit in an artificial way. What is it the Lady Catherine de Bourgh character says in Bride and Prejudice? "With Indian food, and meditation, and Deepak Chopra, who even needs to go to India anymore?" (Laughing at our folly.)


Carolien (carolien_s) | 444 comments I read this a few years ago and, like Pamela, found Flavia annoying although I enjoyed the plot.


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
Thanks for the interview, Judy. That really is interesting - I love any background to novels that I enjoy.


message 39: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie | 190 comments I finally started but it seems to be a fast read - got up to chapter 10 last night. not sure what I was expecting but didn't realize the main character is only eleven years old!
I'll finish in the next day or two and come back to read everyone's posts.
I'm really enjoying it.


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
Good to hear you are enjoying it, Jackie.


message 41: by Susan in NC (new) - added it

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2412 comments I really enjoyed this reread - as a big fan who has read every book in the series, I was mystified by some things, like(view spoiler). Rereading after all these years and the rest of the series didn’t necessarily clear things up, but reminded me things started out this way...


Carol Palmer | 56 comments I just finished this one. I thought it was really fun. Too bad it wasn't written when I was about 11 years old (1967)! I would have really enjoyed it then!


message 43: by Michaela (new)

Michaela | 286 comments I´ll be reading this later on, as I never read anything of this series.


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
As this has been quite popular and we have been chatting, recently, about new buddy reads, I wondered whether this series would make a good choice? If you have any thoughts about this, please head over to the buddy thread and let us know:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


Lesley | 383 comments I'd heard about this series but never got to reading it. Pleased I have now. Thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and a fast read. Love the heroine even though she's just eleven years old. Such fun and so adventurous. Kept bringing the Pippi Longstocking stories to mind from way back. Had this book been published back when my daughter was reading prolifically she'd have given Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden a run for their money.


Susan | 9426 comments Mod
Yes, reminded me of Pippi Longstocking too, Lesley :)


Sandy | 2559 comments Mod
CrimeReads.com has an article about the Flavia series:

How the Flavia de Luce Series Investigates the Traditional English Village Murder Mystery

(I was unsuccessful at copying the link.)


Sandy | 2559 comments Mod
And an article on Freeman Wills Crofts.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 715 comments Thanks, Sandy!


message 50: by Susan in NC (new) - added it

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 2412 comments Thanks, Sandy!


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