You're not in Kansas anymore…

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

When my sister returned home from one of her many travels this Christmas, she brought with her a strange and beautiful book entitled The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.

The novel is a muder mystery set in England in 1950 and features the wonderful 11-year-old heroine Flavia de Luce, who is sort of a mix between Artemis Fowl and Sherlock Holmes. She lives with her eccentric father, two older sisters and handyman Dogger in a mansion just outside of a small village called Bishop’s Lacey. Her mother is missing, presumed dead, after a mountaineering accident when Flavia was just a baby. Flavia is a self-taught chemistry-geek who is constantly at war with sisters Ophelia and Daphne.

One day, a dead bird is left on their doorstep, which has quite an effect on her reclusive father, and soon after, Flavia discovers a dead body in their garden. This marks the beginning of Flavia’s career as a private investigator as she is determined to prove her father innocent of murder.

The novel is funny, charming and entertaining. As the Guardian described it: “A cross between Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle and the Addams family.” Flavia is brilliant, her family is fantastically weird (although our impression of them is naturally somewhat coloured by Flavia’s view. Her sisters in particular do not seem to get a fair trial), and the plot is exciting. A great read for the weekend. (Although I suppose this weekend is pretty booked as you’re all watching Simon Pegg‘s entire back catalogue, reading his autobiography AND watching Breakfast At Tiffany’s… In  that case, save it for next week. But do read it! It’s wonderful!)

A second Flavia de Luce-mystery,  The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, has already hit the shelves, and there is another scheduled for release in March, entitled A Red Herring Without Mustard. I can’t wait to read them!

Love, Mari


2 responses

  1. Intertextuality, anyone?
    Love it!

    Just out of curiosity, does Ophelia and Daphne have any boyfriends?

    January 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    • Well, Ophelia is sort of flirty with a boy, but he ends up with someone else. And there are very few similarities between him and a certain Danish prince, as far as I can see… She’s the girly-girl though, very interested in boys and clothes. Daphne spends all her time reading classic novels, no boys for her. There is a section in the novel where an old friend of Flavia’s father talks about the girls’ names and their history, and Flavia has a theory that Shakespeare’s Ophelia wasn’t really crazy, just a victim of a self-centered, vicious family. Which may be the case with Bradley’s Ophelia as well, although she doesn’t seem as mentally unstable as her classic counterpart. 🙂 -Mari

      January 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm

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