The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: Week in Books 27a

Dear readers, I have identified another book for my top picks of 2010.  Alan Bradley’s fantastic mystery novel The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a rollicking, witty, fun tale of a young girl, Flavia de Luce, who loves chemistry and despises custard pies and gets into all sorts of scrapes while beating the police to the punch and solving a murder mystery.

Imagine if Nancy Drew books were really cleverly written and set in a British manor house in the 1950s and not formulaic or aimed at bored 13 year olds. Or imagine that Sherlock Holmes was an eleven year old girl. If you think of those possibilities and squint a bit you’ll get an idea of the Flavia de Luce mysteries.  Because, hurrah, this is to be a series!  The second book is already out and I’ve got it on hold at the library even now!

As I said, this book is at once clever and fun, and along the way the reader winds up learning quite a bit about British stamps and whatnot without feeling bombarded. The voice of Flavia, who narrates the book, is phenomenal, and even more so when you consider that the author is a seventy year old man. I know! He wrote his first novel at seventy! Isn’t that awesome?

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is that rare sort of book that you could happily give your youngish child because it’s entertaining and not full of adult themes, but that you’d also enjoy yourself.  Plus you won’t feel guilty for poisoning your tween’s brain with YA twaddle full of horrible prose and cliches and vampires.  Everybody wins.

As you’ve likely gathered by now from all of my hyperbole and rampant use of exclamation points, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone.

{Note: I’m behind on book reviews but don’t want to lump too many fantastic books into one post for fear you’ll overlook one, so you’ll be seeing more book posts for a bit.  Sorry I’ve been slacking on my blog posting!}

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10 thoughts on “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: Week in Books 27a

  1. Don’t ever stop your book reviews!!! I have never been disappointed by checking out a book that you highly recommended. And shame on me, I hardly ever come and comment about it. 😉 But our library had 40-some people in line for this book, so I had the clever idea to “buy it for a friend,” which meant that I *had* to read it before giving it. (To make sure it was a good book, of course.) I read the entire thing yesterday afternoon during naps and nursing sessions.

    I particularly appreciated that it was much cleaner than most mystery fiction. Can’t tell you how many mysteries I’ve checked out on someone’s recommendation only to find lurid details that I really did not want….

  2. Thanks for doing these book reviews. I’m always on the lookout for good books that don’t have needless adult material in them but are well written-hard to find these days!

  3. Hey Catherine, I just finished The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I had to wait about two months to get it as there were 127 or so holds at the library! I enjoyed it a lot and will probably read the next book by this author. Thanks for the review! I’m not sure if you get World magazine or not, but they highlighted this book in an issue I got after your above review.

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