Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The author: Alan Bradley
Publication: Doubleday, 2009
Got it from: The library

This book has been getting a lot of buzz in the past year and I'm probably the last person I know who's read it. 11-year-old Flavia de Luce is a precocious - and I do mean precocious - girl living in rural 1950's England. Living in a big old ramshackle family estate, she loves to indulge in her passion for chemistry in a lab abandoned by a long-dead ancestor. Her mother is dead and her father is a reclusive stamp collector who seldom talks to his daughters. Sister Ophelia (Feely) is obsessed with boys and makeup and Daphne (Daffy) likes to read big books with difficult words. Both enjoy tormenting Flavia.

The story begins when a dead jack snipe turns up on the kitchen porch with a stamp impaled on its bill. If that isn't strange enough, Flavia finds a dying man in the cucumber patch who breathes his last words to her before promptly expiring. Flavia sets out to solve the case with pigtails swinging, cycling around the town of Bishop's Lacey on her trusted bike Gladys and gathering evidence.

This is a mystery as comforting as tea on Sunday. One can't help wondering if Flavia is still out there somewhere in an English village, 7o years old and solving crime Miss Marple-style. It's light and enjoyable, easy to read and a lot of fun.

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