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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by…

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (edition 2009)

by Alan Bradley

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5,088516882 (3.86)1 / 810
Title:The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Authors:Alan Bradley
Info:Doubleday Canada (2009), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:hardcover, mystery

Work details

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

  1. 143
    Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (lorin77)
  2. 111
    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (foggidawn)
  3. 112
    The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (clif_hiker, 47degreesnorth)
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    The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (chinquapin)
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    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (nysmith)
  6. 94
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (lauranav)
    lauranav: Both show relationships and point of view of a young girl.
  7. 50
    Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Though Sweetness is more of a traditional mystery, it shares with Where'd You Go, Bernadette an endearing, precocious, and entertaining young narrator who pieces together clues from the adult world to solve a mystery. Character interactions are delightfully, humorously depicted.… (more)
  8. 73
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (inbedwithbooks)
    inbedwithbooks: Deze twee boeken vertonen veel gelijkenis, door de hoofdpersonages, nl.jonge rijke betweterige meisjes.
  9. 51
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (citygirl)
    citygirl: Castle is much darker and Flavia is more adorable than creepy (Merricat is quite creepy), but if you're interested in unusual young protagonists, with a very particular world view, try these.
  10. 51
    The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen (raizel)
    raizel: Both stories about brilliant and quirky children were recommended at the same time by my daughter. T.S. Spivet is the more real character and the book is beautifully written. Yes, T.S. Spivet is a boy, but I'm not sexist enough to let that bother me.
  11. 30
    The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Flavia de Luce has a similar voice as Enola and both are young, precocious and underestimated detectives.
  12. 20
    Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes (y2pk)
    y2pk: Pre-teen girl investigating adult crimes, while putting up with her sometimes-strange family and home life. Emma Graham also appears in two other books, Cold Flat Junction and Belle Ruin. They should be read in order.
  13. 10
    The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (47degreesnorth)
  14. 33
    The Little Friend by Donna Tartt (dara85)
  15. 00
    A Man in Uniform by Kate Taylor (starfishian)

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English (513)  German (4)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (525)
Showing 1-5 of 513 (next | show all)
What fun! A good, fun mystery with some laugh-out-loud moments and an utterly delightful geeky protagonist. I'll definitely read more in this series! ( )
  Gwendydd | Feb 7, 2016 |
Last Book for 2015

I actually found that I liked the second book much better than this one, so if you were slightly put off SWEETNESS, do go to the library and check out #2. ( )
  PamFamilyLibrary | Feb 7, 2016 |

Chapter 1 is where we learn that/get:

a. Ophelia is the only one of the de Luce sisters to remember their mother, Harriet.

b. Harriet is said to have died in a mountaineering accident when Flavia was a year old.

c. Ophelia's pearls belonged to Harriet. (She's the only sister to refer to her as 'Mummy'.

d. Why Buckshaw is a Georgian house instead of an Elizabethan one.

e. Why Antony added the west and William de Luce added the east wings.

f. A description of Tar de Luce's chemistry lab on the top floor of the east wing.

g. How Flavia got her love of chemistry

h. Flavia mentioning fish scales making up lipstick [apparently the shimmering ones, anyway].

i. All the de Luce sisters have spectacles, but Ophelia won't wear hers and Flavia's are little more than window glass.

Chapter 2 is where we learn that/get:

a. A description of Flavia's bedroom, which is in the east wing.

b. A description of Dogger's prisoner of war experiences during World War II (well, Mrs. Mullet's whispered description of them).

c. Flavia possesses Harriet's acute sense of hearing

d. The British name for what we call 'Daylight Savings Time' is 'Summer Time'.

e. That the de Luces all hate Mrs. Mullet's custard pies and what excuses they make for asking her to take them to her husband.

Chapter 3 is where we learn that/get:

a. The phone number for the police is Bishop's Lacey two two one (spoken, not dialed). This is where Flavia thinks of Sherlock Holmes and a coincidence.

b. A description of Inspector Hewitt.

c. Flavia gives us some of the antiquated names in Tar de Luce's copy of Elements of Chemistry by Antoine Lavoisier. [King's yellow is now called arsenic trisulfide. I wonder if the old name inspired the title of Robert W. Chambers' The King in Yellow.]

d. You may search for the Rank Films gongman on the internet to see what the de Luce dinner gong looks like.

e. A description of Dr. Darby

In chapter four Flavia tells us about the Sal Volatile and another form of smelling salts.

Chapter 5 is where we learn that/get:

a. a brief history and description of the Bishop's Lacey Free Library.

b. [Chlorosis is a real affliction in humans as well as plants -- a young woman who doesn't get enough iron and protein in her diet can turn green. The May 22, 1987 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), v.257, issue 20, pp.2799-800, contains 'Whatever Became of Chlorosis' by William H. Crosby, MD. As I recall, the article suggested the famous painting on the issue's cover might show a girl suffering from chlorosis because of the greenish tint of her skin.]

c. That there are horror tales about retired librarian Miss Mountjoy and what the villagers do in reaction.

d. The text of a newspaper article Flavia was researching.

Chapter 6 is where we learn that/get:

a. Twining's Lingua Latina , a standard school text used around the world, was published when Mr. Twining was only 24.

b. The story of Dr. Kissing, the headmaster, and his prized stamp.

c. How Flavia rescued her mother's bicycle and rechristened it 'Gladys'. [See the article on the history of the bicycle at Wikipedia for why a a late 19th century woman named her bike 'Gladys'.]

d. How the gates at Buckshaw were acquired

e. [The blessing Flavia mentally calls on for Dogger is the most of verses 24 & 25 of chapter 6 in the Biblical Book of Numbers.]

f. Alf Mullet's second sister's name is Margaret and she goes to Scotland on her holidays.

Chapter 7 is where we learn that/get:

a. Daphne wants to be a novelist and keeps a notebook of phrases she's read.

b. A description of one of the rooms at Thirteen Drakes Inn.

c. A mention of the famous Dr. Crippen murder case (although DNA evidence discovered in 2007 suggests he was innocent).

Chapter 9 is where we learn that/get:

a. Ophelia plays the piano beautifully

b. Flavia's favorite musical composition is the Toccata by Pietro Domenico Paradisi from his Sonata in A Major

c. a description of Mrs. Bewdley's ornamental garden

d. Flavia singing some lines that apparently come from T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land.

e. a bit of description of the greenhouse at Buckshaw

f. Colonel de Luce's attitude toward the telephone.

Chapter 10 is where we learn that/get:

a. The de Luces attend St. Tancred in Bishop's Lacey and some anecdotes about their Sundays there. There is also a description of the church's stained glass windows.

b. Flavia has a theory about what she considers to be obvious alchemical references in the Book of Revelation.

c. Flavia uses 'nauseous' for 'nauseating,' not something I would expect in 1950.
She also tells us that she and her family 'serviced' the entire congregation, although that may not have implied having sex (usually for money) in England at that time.

d. a description of Buckshaw's lake, island, and folly, designed by Capability Brown.

e. a mention of a family tradition about the Earl of Sandwich who invented the sandwich

f. the river loops around St. Tancred

Chapter 11 is where we learn that/get:

a. There's a wheeled ladder in the library at Buckshaw.

b. which book is the pride of Flavia's chemical library

c. Horehound is Flavia's secret passion (she bought horehound sticks at Miss Cool's)

d. Miss Cool had a collie named Geordie who was run over by a speeding motorist

e. Miss Mountjoy's house is called Willow Villa.

f. [The folk song, 'The Seeds of Love' is available on the internet.]

Chapter 12 is where we learn that/get:

a. a description of Colonel de Luce's study & bedroom, as well as Harriet's bedroom

b. Flavia shares her father's lecture on the history of the penny post [which gave me a new appreciation for the first stamp in Terry Pratchett's Going Postal].

Chapter 13 is where we learn that/get:

a. The rumors about Maximilian Brock and why his nickname is 'The Village Pump'.

b. a description of the police station at Hinley. ( )
  JalenV | Feb 5, 2016 |
An amusing and precocious heroine, an entertaining story. Wondering where they shelve it in the library, with the YA, the mysteries, or the YA for for adults, LOL. Will have to read more. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
Flavian is totally cool, love this series, can't wait to read the next one ( )
  crazeedi73 | Jan 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 513 (next | show all)
It's a rare pleasure to follow Flavia as she investigates her limited but boundless-feeling world. And it's nice to know she'll be back.
Impressive as a sleuth and enchanting as a mad scientist (“What a jolly poison could be extracted from the jonquil”), Flavia is most endearing as a little girl who has learned how to amuse herself in a big lonely house.

» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bradley, Alanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Entwistle, JayneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leonardo, CatherineCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montgomery, JoeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie, who cares for all the crinkling of the pie?

--William King, The Art of Cookery (1708)
For Shirley
First words
It was as black in the closet as old blood.
That means King George the Sixth, and King George the Sixth is not a frivolous man. (chapter four)
It is not unknown for fathers with a brace of daughters to reel off their names in order of birth when summoning the youngest, and I had long ago become accustomed to being called "Ophelia Daphne Flavia, damn it." (chapter 16)
It occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No... eight days a week. (chapter 5)
My particular passion was poison. (chapter 1)
'I have forgot much, Cynara! Gone with the wind,
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! In my fashion'

It's from his Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae. Perhaps you know of it? I shook my head. It's very beautiful, I said.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Publisher's editors
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Publisher series
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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Book description
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.

In his wickedly brilliant first novel, Alan Bradley introduces one of the most singular and engaging heroines in recent fiction — eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. It is the summer of 1950 — and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia's family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. 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.

An enthralling mystery, a piercing depiction of class and society, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a masterfully told take of deceptions — and a rich literary delight.


For very-nearly-eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, the discovery of a dead snipe on the doorstep of Buckshaw, the crumbling de Luce country seat, was a marvellous mystery — especially since this particular snipe had a rather rare stamp neatly impaled on its beak. Even more astonishing was the effect of the dead bird on her stamp-collector father, who appeared to be genuinely frightened. Soon Flavia discovers something even more shocking in the cucumber patch and it's clear that the snipe was a bird of very ill omen indeed.

As the police descend on Buckshaw, Flavia decides it is up to her to piece together the clues and solve the puzzle. Who was the man she heard her father arguing with? What was the snipe doing in England at all? Who or what is the Ulster Avenger? And, most peculiar of all, who took a slice of Mrs Mullet's unspeakable custard pie that had been cooling by the window...?

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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. For Flavia, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.… (more)

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