Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
By Alan Bradley
It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.
For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “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 entire life.”
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
How does a 70 year old man write a book from the perspective of an eleven year old girl? Amazing! The things I love about Flavia include her complete belief in herself, indomitable spirit, her understanding that adults are fallible and the fictions she tells herself.
I remember being a lot like Flavia when I was eleven, except for the passion for chemistry bent on poisons, discovering dead bodies, living in England in a mansion…. Ok, so I was really nothing like Flavia, but I identify with her as if I could have been that kind of little girl. As for the sisters, they are horribly wonderful. They are the epitome of siblings who torture one another out of their love for each other. Without the horrid sisters there really wouldn’t need to be a love for poisons and fantasies of revenge, and that would be a shame.
The precocious Flavia has a unique relationship with the adults around her. She is a grounding influence for Dogger, an anomaly to her father and a nuisance to the Inspector. However, each one of these adults have their lives altered by her influence.
I love this book because of the obscure and broad references. One of my favorite moments is when Flavia goes to a rest home and observes two women that she describes as competing for the role of Lady Macbeth in their dance on the lawn.
When is murder sweet? When Flavia is available to solve the case.
I highly recommend Alan Bradley’s Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie