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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,753473986 (3.86)1 / 792
English (469)  Spanish (3)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (480)
Showing 1-25 of 469 (next | show all)
My co-worker Marie suggested this series. After the first 2 pages I was hooked. Big time. It is an incredibly well written story about a young girl in England a decade or so after the second world war. It is a mystery book and I am not really into mysteries but there is so much more to this story. The heroine is amazing, just like I would have liked to be as a kid. If I had been that smart! ( )
  okramsey | May 21, 2015 |
I read this book because it was recommended by my local library. This is a very entertaining mystery that is told by an 11-year-old girl who is interested in chemistry. She tries to solve a murder mystery after a strange man dies in her family's cucumber garden. The story is set in the English countryside shortly after World War II, and it is very enjoyable to follow Flavia as she bicycles around the area with her bicycle named Gladys, searching places for evidence and clues and interviewing interesting characters in her quest to uncover the truth of what happened. The story has the right mix of drama and humor, the descriptions and dialoge are very well written. I listened to this book on audio, and I really liked listening to the narrator. ( )
  AdrienneJS | May 18, 2015 |
To be fair, I only actually read the last bit of this novel. For most of it, I listened to the lovely Jayne Entwistle bring the story to life via audio book. It was brilliant. Her crisp voice read Bradley's words with a lively, clean, sound. And Bradley's words - oh, the simile, the vocabulary, the literary references - delightful. The main character, Flavia, is endearing and enchanting. I should like to have a child like her. He perfectly captured the mind of an eleven-year-old girl. The plot, twisting and twinning, characters full of mystery, the emotional depth all combine to make a nearly perfect novel. I'm hooked - utterly and completely, and I must have more of this marvelous story. ( )
  empress8411 | Apr 30, 2015 |
I read this book while at my sister's house this week. Let me paint you a picture of the chaos I blocked out to get to the end of this terrific story...My sister her husband their 15 month old daughter, my brother his wife their 15 month old son, my father his wife, my stepsister, her boyfriend, his dog and me all in the house for 5 days! Tghis book was so engaging I managed to block out all the noise, the baby cuteness the dog sweetness the visiting relatives to finish in 2 days! ( )
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
Not a book for someone with ADD. ( )
  KR_Patterson | Apr 28, 2015 |
Very entertaining and a fun read. ( )
  LauraLuzzi | Mar 26, 2015 |
Flavia is an eleven year old chemist with a specialization in poisons. If that one sentence does not make you pick up this book with alacrity than I simply don't understand the fundamentals of entertainment. But if you're still unconvinced, hold on it gets better.

Things take an interesting turn when a dead snipe with a postage stamp on its beak turns up on her family's doorstep. Later that evening a stranger comes to visit her father and to Flavia's astonishment, the two men argue in the night. The next morning, Flavia finds the stranger dead in the garden. Who murdered him? For what possible motive? And how exactly do stamps fit into this? Clearly, Flavia is the only one qualified to uncover this mystery.

I really can't properly express how much I enjoyed this book, so I'll just quit while I'm ahead. ( )
  Juva | Mar 22, 2015 |
Loved it! Every book in this series is a delight. ( )
  akcurrent | Mar 14, 2015 |
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 21, 2015 |
A mystery solved by a wonderful, although almost unbelievably brilliant, knowledgeable and wise girl/scientist who is supposed to be only eleven years old(!). That kept bothering me, so I just imagined her a little older, at around fifteen. I suppose the author wanted to exclude the possible implications her age could have in regard to relationships she could have if she were older. At eleven, you are first and foremost a child, as she is repeatedly reminded, at fifteen, you are a whole different person - a young woman, and things could get complicated, I suppose.
I also thought the book has lost its pace during the middle part where father tells Flavia the story as he remembers it from his childhood, but otherwise the book was a delightful and fast paced read, spiked with Flavia's witty comments.

The book also reintroduced me to the two outstanding works of art: Toccata in A Major from Paradisi and Bach's Goldberg Variations, for which I am very grateful. ( )
  flydodofly | Feb 19, 2015 |
This story was a delight. Flavia is clever and independent and very wise - particularly considering she is only 11 years old!
I loved the atmosphere which perfectly evoked the sense of place and time. Flavia's troubled relationships with her sisters and father add a poignant layer to the plot and take it from just a mystery story to a quite complex narrative. It is full of humour and science too - what a wonderful mixture - it really has everything. I am looking forward to the next installment. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Feb 15, 2015 |
I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that this book was available at my library translated to Swedish. I really don't have time for library books, but sometimes I have to make an exception.

Flavia de Luce is a wonderful 11-year old girl with a passion for chemistry (nothing we really share, but I love that she loves it) and in this book she has to clear her father from a murder charge. But what have stamps to do with the murder?

I admit I had some trouble getting into the story, but I think it was because I only read a little of the book every day, I much prefer to just devour a book and not just take a chapter or two every day. So yesterday I just thought "what the heck let's finish this off" and then everything with the book felt a lot better.

This is a great book; I recommended this book to anyone that likes a good mystery book.

When I think about; Flavia could actually be the child of Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell (See Laurie R. King). She loves chemistry and is an amateur detective...

Also I love the names of the sisters, Flavia, Daphne and Ophelia. It's just splendid!

4 stars

Review also posted on And Now for Something Completely Different and It's a Mad Mad World ( )
  MaraBlaise | Feb 3, 2015 |
Absolutely charming. ( )
  AntT | Jan 24, 2015 |
Absolutely charming. ( )
  AntT | Jan 24, 2015 |
For some particular reasons, I just really, really love this book. Even it's kind of unrealistic at some points, that's didn't annoyed me. It has that kind of dark, witty humour that I love, and Flavia is fun and lovely, I guess.
  birdiesxo | Jan 19, 2015 |
The audiobook has a wonderful narrator -- she sounds so full of gleeful mischief!

I really enjoyed this one. The mystery was interesting, though not quite as complex as I might have hoped, but it's the main character Flavia who carries it.

The details of the 1950's English countryside setting are also wonderful. Will likely check out more in the series.
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
A long book to slog through. Felt like it should have been over half way through. Have a tough time imagining ways to recommend this book to teens. Think some girls that are big readers, and like mysteries might enjoy it. A no go for most boys. I do give the author credit for what I thought were some pretty sophisticated literary elements in a book geared to YA. ( )
  rdwhitenack | Dec 20, 2014 |
Read from June 15 to September 08, 2014

In my ongoing attempt to finish as few books as possible in 2014, here's another one I just lost interest in. I found Flavia an interesting character, but the mystery wasn't mysterious enough to keep me interested in reading another 200 pages. ( )
  melissarochelle | Oct 12, 2014 |
Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce is the star of this mystery set in England in 1950. When a man is found dead in her garden, she has to unravel events dating back decades in order to identify the murderer. Well, technically, she doesn't have to. In fact, the authorities would probably prefer that she left the job to them. But Flavia is smart and precocious, and she's convinced that her knowledge of chemistry and her general curiosity will lead her to the killer.

I had trouble warming up to Flavia at first. On the audio, she came across as a bit too impressed with herself. (The inflections in the narrator's voice may have heightened this effect.) But in the end, she won me over. I felt like she needed an "equal" in the book. Her father, her sisters, the housekeeper, and most of the other characters came off as quite daft most of the time. Her conversations with the chief investigator as the book was wrapping up made me wish that they had more interactions throughout. Although this start to the series was entertaining enough, I'm on the fence as to whether I'll keep going. ( )
1 vote porch_reader | Sep 30, 2014 |
This wasn't exactly poorly-written, but I didn't feel connected to the main character and the things she did just weren't very interesting or smart or funny or anything special. ( )
  piersanti | Sep 28, 2014 |
I found this book perfectly charming... yet flawed. Some of Bradley's stylistic choices seem amateurish, at best.* I'm sure he will pick up and correct these over time. Or perhaps not. Perhaps I'm asking too much of the genre itself. Regardless, I do have certain standards that he failed to meet on a few occasions that I'll describe below.

One, in particular, hit me hard in chapters 15 and 16, where Flavia's father, Colonel de Luce, tells her the backstory regarding Horace Bonepenny. The story is told from the Colonel's point of view, in his voice, as he recites it to Flavia. However, the narration voice in this section is exactly the same as the rest of the novel, which itself is from the first-person voice of a rather precocious 11-year-old girl. Bradley wanted a method to convey this backstory to Flavia (and likewise to us), and used her father as a vehicle. As a plot device, this is perfectly fine, of course, but I found it jarring and unbelievable that her father spoke the same way that Flavia did. First and foremost, nobody talks like that, not even a precocious 11-year-old girl, but we're inclined to forgive that because the voice is so charming and it's just narrative after all. Second, nobody would talk that way in actual dialog. Here's an except from the beginning of the tale (and remember, this is the Colonel speaking out loud to Flavia):

“Although Greyminster was no more than a few miles from Buckshaw, in those days it might just as well have been on the moon. We were fortunate indeed in our headmaster, Dr. Kissing, a gentle soul who believed no harm could ever come to the boy who was administered daily doses of Latin, rugger, cricket, and history, and on the whole, we were treated well.”

See my point? This sounds like written narrative, not spoken dialog. If Bradley wanted this to be dialog (which was the choice he made when he had Flavia's father "tell" her this story) then he should have adjusted the voice to something believable, something that flowed more like dialog would.

Second gripe: most of the other characters in this novel are wasted. Flavia is thoroughly fleshed out, wonderfully so, and will bring readers back for more. As the first-person delivery mechanism, most of Bradley's time was devoted to her. But then he practically ignored the rest of the characters and left them as mere window dressing around Flavia's adventure. Even her father, front and center in this drama/tragedy, doesn't achieve much more than a slight awakening at the end to his daughter's efforts. How much better would this book have been had the cast of characters around Flavia—and there were more than a few that sparked my interest—been developed properly and allowed to bloom?

That said, the writing was more than I'd expect from a novice, and either Bradley struck on a one-hit wonder with the character of Flavia (too soon to tell) or he's got a decent pool of creative genius to tap into for other books to come. I will most likely read the next book in the series to see how he progresses. If nothing else, I am not through with Flavia and would genuinely like to see what her character gets up to next.

* This felt like Bradley's first attempt at writing (or publishing) a novel. Checking Wikipedia, this seems to be true (sort of). I get the sense that he's drawn on a lifetime of experience *reading* novels and decided he could do just as good a job on his own *writing* novels. To that end, I will say: he's got some talent. But I think he needs some practice. ( )
  invisiblelizard | Sep 28, 2014 |
This was pretty goofy in a fun parody of an English cosey mystery. I'll be reading more of the series ( )
  MikeRhode | Sep 26, 2014 |
Unexpected. Excellent. Delightful. ( )
  atuson | Sep 7, 2014 |
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