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Historical Group Reads > Jan/Feb 2011: The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley

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message 1: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (last edited Jan 13, 2011 06:14AM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley is the Runner Up Group Read this month.

It is the second in the series of the Flavia de Luce books. The first was The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which was the April/May 2010 group read.

Here is the link to that discussion: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/3...


message 2: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (last edited Jan 16, 2011 04:05AM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
Please be considerate about spoilers, both from this and from "Sweetness".

Mark all spoilers clearly. Thanks


message 3: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 71 comments Great timing -- I just got this ebook off hold on my library's Overdrive system. Guess what I'll be reading next on my nook!


message 4: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
I've just started! Will be posting a few things tomorrow morning (my time).


message 5: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 182 comments Just picked this up at the library today, along with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I feel that I should read it before starting The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag.

I'll catch up before the month is over.

Looking forward to the discussions.


message 6: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (last edited Jan 16, 2011 04:11AM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
Well, I'm right at the beginning, but I want to ask two questions:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1) by Alan Bradley and The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Flavia de Luce, #2) by Alan Bradley

>>> Both of Alan Bradley's books The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, (and the later ones too) have really unusual titles.

Do the titles intrigue you and make you want to read? Or do strange titles put you off. Just for these books, or for titles in general?

>>> The opening chapters are really unusual as well. Was is a good technique for you, or not?


message 7: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 71 comments If the author is unfamiliar to me, the title is often what grabs me. Have to finish a library book today and then I'm looking forward to diving in.


message 8: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (cinnabarb) | 8528 comments I liked the titles of the books. They made me want to see what the heck the stories were about. I also liked the introductory chapters where Flavia and her family (and some other zany characters) were introduced. Flavia is great- precocious, smart, and talented. She's a hoot. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series A Red Herring Without Mustard


message 9: by Leonora (new)

Leonora Shahon I already have Hangman from the library and am ready to go. I read Sweetness for another group that I am in. The titles do intrique me, but from the title alone I had no idea that this was a mystery series. I actually thought that Sweetness was a romance novel - maybe something to do with the baking industry. I was not going to read it, but then I read the synopsis. The first book was great - I love Flavia and her family!


message 10: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 182 comments I also pick up books of unknown authors, based on the titles. Then I read the inside flap to see if they interest me.

There are so many books on the shelves to skim over. The titles or well known names are the only thing that stop my eye.


message 11: by Linda (new)

Linda Boyd (boydlinda95gmailcom) | 335 comments Leonora wrote: "I already have Hangman from the library and am ready to go. I read Sweetness for another group that I am in. The titles do intrique me, but from the title alone I had no idea that this was a myster..."

I agree with you Leonora, I also that Sweetness.... was one of those food romances, and I was not interested in reading that - which made me not want to read the 2nd Flavia book - maybe I should rethink that and pick this series up. I really like the book covers!!!


message 12: by Pamela (new)

Pamela (pamelaterry) I am planning on reading The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, but I am confused. Since I like to read series books, should I read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie first?


message 13: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
Pamela wrote: "I am planning on reading The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, but I am confused. Since I like to read series books, should I read [book:The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie|62..."

I think so, Pamela. Especially to understand Flavia's character better. I'm sure you would enjoy "Weed" anyway, but the whole family relationship is explained in "Sweetness".


message 14: by Pamela (new)

Pamela (pamelaterry) Thanks, Hayes, that helps point me in the right direction. To the library I go . . .


message 15: by Linette (new)

Linette | 9 comments Love this series (so far) - something different than the usual, and had me laughing out loud in places. Flavia is wonderful. The titles pique my interest, although agreed, it's not easy to know the genre just from the title. These books are fun and I can't wait until A Red Herring Without Mustard comes out.


message 16: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (last edited Jan 20, 2011 12:41AM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
I haven't read too far along yet (am trying to finish a longish memoir--interesting, but not fast).

I love the titles of these two books. They really made me want to read them.

I loved the beginning of Sweetness where (view spoiler)

The same with the beginning of Weed... (view spoiler)

Flavia is such a smart alec and must be really irritating at times. Small wonder her sisters and she are at war with each other. I love the quote on page 39 (of my copy):
I'd show that bloody swine Feely [her sister Ophelia] a thing or two. I'd have her so tied up in knots they'd have to hire a sailor to undo her for the funeral.



message 17: by Carol (last edited Jan 21, 2011 10:27PM) (new)

Carol | 152 comments Pamela wrote: "I am planning on reading The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, but I am confused. Since I like to read series books, should I read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie so I could read the books in order.
I just read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie so I could read the books in order. I loved it and it was a quick read. I am starting The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag tomorrow, so I'll be a bit behind with you, Pamela!



message 18: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 182 comments Just recently started "The Weed". I felt that I had to read "The Sweetness" first.

Love the sibling tortures. There are ten years between my sister and I; and thirteen between my brother and I…. AND I was the angelic one! ;o)

Interesting to view the world in terms of chemistry.


message 19: by Barbara (last edited Jan 22, 2011 07:25AM) (new)

Barbara (cinnabarb) | 8528 comments Almeta wrote: "Just recently started "The Weed". I felt that I had to read "The Sweetness" first.

Love the sibling tortures. There are ten years between my sister and I; and thirteen between my brother and I..."


Speaking of tortures - how about that poison ivy
lipstick in "The Sweetness". It makes me cringe just to think about it :)


message 20: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 182 comments That WAS pretty mean. I squatted in poison ivy once, it was REAL torture!


message 21: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) | 182 comments I read "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie", just hours before starting "The Weed...." I believe that I got “Flavia overload”!

I think there's a reason why some time elapses between the release of books in a series. It gives the characters time to become endearing.

I do like Flavia's interactions with her family and her humorous imagination. But I think the prank with the lipstick and the prank with the candy was just too much for one sitting. I do believe though, if I had waited a couple of months before picking up the second book, that my reaction would have been “Oh that Flavia is really a card. Don’t you just love her?”.

Well I do love her enough to put myself on the waiting list at the library for the next installment.

This was a good book discussion choice. I look forward to what the group comes up with next. So far I have not been disappointed.


message 22: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
I just finished "The Weed" and found it very satisfactory, but I am a big fan of this kind of mystery. I love the language and the smart alec answers Flavia gives (even if it is a little over the top for an 11 year old girl). I love the descriptions of the town and the strange characters that live there. Can't wait for #3.


message 23: by Sandy (new)

Sandy (SandyLamar) | 33 comments Is anyone else bothered by the sheer meanness of some of Flavia's pranks? I didn't have siblings, but some of these seem designed to scar the recipient for life, emotionally and physically. The precocious, smart alec, and pranky does seem to cross a line in my mind (it certainly would if it was real life).


message 24: by Carol (new)

Carol | 152 comments Sandy wrote: "Is anyone else bothered by the sheer meanness of some of Flavia's pranks? I didn't have siblings, but some of these seem designed to scar the recipient for life, emotionally and physically. The p..."

I was bothered as well. The sisters seem to be very mean to each other in general, and the reader isn't told of very many times when the girls are getting along or interacting with each other. Flavia does refer to some things her sisters have said to her that seem more normal, though.
The wife/motherless family seems almost devoid of affection and Flavia often mentions that I would have hugged him, but "we are de Luces".
The first book gave more of a background into the family and a glimpse of a bit more of the emotional side of Mr. de Luce.
I guess the pragmatic Flavia is comfortable in this world. I would like to give her a hug sometimes, but she probably wouldn't like it!


message 25: by Carol (new)

Carol | 152 comments I just finished this book, which I read immediately after the first book in the series The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1) by Alan Bradley . I enjoyed reading them back to back and Flavia is a wonderful character.
I have read in the general reviews that there are many folks who find her character unreal for an 11 year old. As a teacher, I have met some very precocious children of that age. Her isolation, chemistry lab, available reading material, coupled with her fascination with chemistry and death seem to make her more plausible to me.
I guess I would call this a "cozy mystery". I enjoyed the characters of the townsfolk, the police and the de Luce family and Flavia so much that the mystery was sort of a background piece for me.
I enjoyed the view into post-war England and the inclusion of the German POW. I hope that poor Mr. de Luce is rescued from bankruptcy in the next book in the series A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce, #3) by Alan Bradley


message 26: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (last edited Jan 29, 2011 10:54AM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "I guess I would call this a "cozy mystery". I enjoyed the characters of the townsfolk, the police and the de Luce family and Flavia so much that the mystery was sort of a background piece for me."

That's what I meant, Carol. The mystery was an extra, not the central focus.

And yes, I do think the pranks are very mean. But her sisters tell her (view spoiler) Talk about bullying!


message 27: by Carol (new)

Carol | 152 comments And yes, I do think the pranks are very mean. But her sisters tell her (view spoiler)[ that she wasn't loved and that their mother killed herself because of Flavia. (hide spoiler)] Talk about bullying!

Yes, Hayes, I thought that was awful. My oldest daughter once told her sister that we had "midgets in our family" and that she was going to be one. The older girl meant to have her fun and tell her the truth, but forgot to do it. Days later my poor daughter came to me tearfully to ask me if it was true. My girls rarely fought, but they occasionally did this type of thing!
It seems very cruel that the older girls were so mean to Flavia re: some of the things they told her about her mother. I think her aunt made things better when she told her about Harriet and how she was so much like her.


message 28: by Leonora (new)

Leonora Shahon I just finished this book yesterday and I really enjoyed it. I did read the first book in the series and have high hopes for the third. I just love Flavia's character and how self-aware she is coupled with her naivete. Actually, she is quite typical of highly gifted children, many of which bear a striking resemblemce to her character.

The de Luces' home life is often portrayed as empty, but I think the Father has a pretty good idea of what is going on at home and how his girls treat each other. I was pleased to see the Aunt character show up, but I feel that she did not tell Flavia enough details about her mother. The situation definately left me craving more information! Perhaps these details will all come out in future books. Looking forward to reading more about Flavia and her escapades.


message 29: by Dorte (new)

Dorte | 5 comments When my daughter read the first novel, she also thought Flavia was mean, but I assumed that her older sisters had taught her to. They are not exactly mother figures to her.

I don´t like the titles much so read the first because I saw glowing reviews. The Danish title is worse, however: "Flavia de Luce and the Avenger from Ulster" - sounds like an IRA bombing :(


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