“The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” by Alan Bradley

flavia de luce

Who doesn’t love a good detective story? Introducing you to a plot line where a gruesome crime has been committed that can only be solved by a genius. We all look with affection towards the fan-favorites Sherlock Holmes – a dashing lad who can find more secrets from one glance at you than you ever thought you were keeping and Hercule Poirot – the little Belgian man whose little brain cells never seem to stop working. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dame Agatha Christie create characters that will not only last throughout the ages but also set up models that will serve to many generations to come. Their legacy inspires many to try their luck in the field of detective work. Even children find it compelling to look for clues and uncover and discover what others fail to see. Nothing can escape the curiosity of a child and nothing can stay hidden for long when the hungry and praying eyes look up and decide to investigate something.

Alan Bradley creates the amazing series that follow the adventures of the 11-year-old Flavia de Luce starting with a novel called ‘The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie’. The title itself draws attention with its simple yet hard to grasp significance. To be honest it was the good book reviews that made me start reading it which led to me devouring the next three novels from the series. And before I get to the characteristics of the wonderful Flavia I’d like to say a few words about the world she lives in.

The story is set in the 1950 in a small town in England where the family of de Luce lives in a big mansion. The whole atmosphere is filled with mystery and hidden secrets that just wait there in the dark ready for the beam of light that will help them craw back into the world. The de Luce family is anything but wealthy. The house they live in is dark and cold and only the small inhabited arrears are a little bit friendlier than the dungeon-like hospitality the rest of the house presents to its guests.

Flavia has two older sister Ophelia and Dapnhe who are anything but comfort to their younger sibling. They frequently plot against her which leaves Flavia with nothing else to do than spend time alone in her laboratory. Did I mention that her one passion is chemistry? As much as Daphne loves reading fantastic tales and as much as Ophelia likes to admire her reflection in the mirror, Flavia enjoys making poisons. Not the typical hobby for a decent young lady. The three sisters’ parental supervision is that of their father Colonel Haviland de Luce who is still devastated by the sudden death of his wife 10 years ago and prefers to devote his time to his loving collection of stamps. The other inhabitant of the lonely house is the retainer Dogger who frequently suffers from hallucinations due to posttraumatic stress disorder from his time as a prisoner of war.

After this introduction in the life of Flavia de Luce it comes as no surprise that she is eager to unveil the story behind the death of a man who she overheard quarrelling with her father a day earlier than her discovery of his body in front of the de Luce’s mansion. Another occurrence that separates Flavia from her beloved laboratory and throws her in the world of the deduction is the dead jack snipe which was found on the porch with a Penny Black stamp pierced through its beak. And all of this leads up to the corpse she confronts in the cucumber patch of her home. Flavia is witty, bold and brilliant, all good qualities that help her prove herself as useful in such delicate situations She even outsmarts the police and is able to solve the crime before the agents of the law. ‘The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie’ proves that sometimes we forget that the children’s point of view does count especially when it belongs to someone as observant as Flavia.

Alan Bradley gives a book as sweet as any cherry pie filled with humor and witty comments that will definitely make anyone’s day better. If you need to catch a break, get your hands on ‘The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie’ and enjoy the adventures Flavia de Luce takes you on. Have a nice time!

Sophie

Sophie

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