The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Large Print - 2009
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In his wickedly brilliant first novel, Debut Dagger Award winner 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. 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.
To Flavia the investigation is the stuff of science: full of possibilities, contradictions, and connections. Soon her father, a man raising his three daughters alone, is seized, accused of murder. And in a police cell, during a violent thunderstorm, Colonel de Luce tells his daughter an astounding story--of a schoolboy friendship turned ugly, of a priceless object that vanished in a bizarre and brazen act of thievery, of a Latin teacher who flung himself to his death from the school's tower thirty years before. Now Flavia is armed with more than enough knowledge to tie two distant deaths together, to examine new suspects, and begin a search that will lead her all the way to the King of England himself. Of this much the girl is sure: her father is innocent of murder--but protecting her and her sisters from something even worse....
An enthralling mystery, a piercing depiction of class and society, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a masterfully told tale of deceptions--and a rich literary delight. From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2009.
ISBN: 9781410419170
1410419177
Characteristics: 503 p. (large print) ; 23 cm.

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m
MaryLouK50
Jan 08, 2019

The audiobooks are delightful. Flavia comes to life through the voice of Jane Entwistle.

e
ElectricMayhem
Dec 28, 2018

Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce is an aspiring chemist, when her father is arrested for murder she begins a search for the truth. Great narrator.

r
red_zinger
Nov 21, 2018

Book 1

I fell upon a delightful series quite by accident – and I was hooked on the first chapter and had to read the whole series. These are charming and witty mystery novels set in England in the 1950s. The charm comes from the main character, and written in her voice, 11-year-old Flavia de Luce. This curious and bright girl cannot keep herself away from dead bodies and trying to solve the mysteries while getting in the way, and much to the chagrin, of the Inspector and his team.

If you enjoy English wit and wisdom, you might also like: The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, A Red Herring without Mustard, and I Am Half-sick of Shadows. For added pleasure, listen to them on CD: Jayne Entwistle’s British accent and talent make all her characters believable and real. (submitted by RK)

a
ApollosRaven
Sep 14, 2018

Flavia de Luce, volume 1. Outrageously good.

s
SuzeParker
Jul 10, 2018

If Flavia de Luce were a living, breathing girl, it's possible she would annoy me no end. As a fictional character whose thoughts I was privy to, however, she delighted me. At turns wise beyond her years and a child who longs to know she's loved, Flavia was the most endearing protagonist I've encountered in months. I thoroughly enjoyed Alan Bradley's turns of phrase, and I was thrilled to learn about four-fifths of the way through the book that it's the first in a series. (Not sure how I missed that; it's clear in the presentation of the book title above. Nevertheless, I had, and the fact that there was more Flavia de Luce to be had was a pleasurable knowledge as I came to the close of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

r
Redheaded_Reader
May 16, 2018

This was a delightful series beginning, and I enjoyed it so much I've requested all the subsequent books, and they can't get here soon enough for me!

Flavia de Luce is a fun, spunky heroine, whose passion for chemistry is catching. (You would think her sisters would learn not to trifle with her, given her aptitude for twisting the science into childishly appropriate acts of revenge!) When she overhears her father arguing with someone one night, only to stumble across that same someone as he lies dying the next morning, she is faced with the unpleasant prospect that either her father or someone close to home is a murderer. Incensed by the the murder investigator's brushing her off because she is "merely" a girl, she determines to get to the bottom of things on her own.

Side Note 1: One of the most astonishing aspects of this book is that the author had, in fact, NEVER been to England until he went there to receive an award for writing this book. (This was mentioned in the notes following the story.) He must have done hours upon hours of meticulous research, because his descriptions ring true, and I'm sure he would never have received a British award for his writing if there had been any blatant discrepancies.

Side Note 2: The narrator for the audiobook is PERFECT for the role of Flavia. She has a certain timbre of voice and inflection that makes you think you are listening to a little girl, without it seeming forced or fake. I reached a point where I had to have the print version because I couldn't listen fast enough, but the portion I did listen to was highly entertaining.

PimaLib_ChristineR Feb 23, 2018

While there are several entries to the precocious-youth-solves-mystery genre, Flavia de Luce is one-of-a-kind. Bradley does a stellar job with Flavia as a ten-year-old. With her mother dying on a mountain in Tibet when she was one, and her father sunk in his philatelist pastimes, Flavia, and her two older sisters, Ophelia (Feely) and Daphne (Daffy) have the run of Buckshaw, the ancient family home. Flavia's tastes run to chemistry, and specifically poison. She spends much of her free time in the Victorian lab left by an ancestor. Despite her knowledge of chemistry, and her ability to sniff out clues, Flavia is still tormented to tears by her sisters, and yearns for a closer relationship with her father. It's a nice balance.

Besides the characters and dialogue, Bradley builds a great traditional whodunit. Flavia first discovers a dead bird on the back stoop, with a stamp impaled on its beak. Later, she snoops on her father arguing with a man she's never seen before...until she finds him dead in the cucumber patch the next morning. Is her father a killer? Who's the stand-in for the village librarian and what is she up to? Flavia is intent on finding out the answers, even if it means pulling off her braces.

j
JDCage
Feb 06, 2018

I would like to apologize to anyone waiting for this book as of 02-06-18. I have spent a half hour trying to figure out how to return this book. (I accidentally downloaded it as an Adobe EPUB.) This is insanely difficult. Frankly, I do not know if it's even possible. Returning a Kindle book is also very difficult, but at least it's possible.

b
bayernjess
Jan 26, 2018

I loved this book, the main character is so witty, likable and intelligent. The author did a wonderful job of getting childhood and sister dynamics correct with their constant irritation mingled with love of each other.

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Summary

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e
estherpatricia
Aug 20, 2015

Like murder mysteries? Can you compete with an amateur chemistry student who is 11 years old? Funny, unexpected murder mystery with a likeable, young heroine! Watch out - her specialty is poisons!

m
maggielo
Aug 19, 2015

mystery fiction, yng girl interested in chemistry, mystery of father's trial

l
ladnerlass
Apr 30, 2011

11 yr old Flavia de Luce murder mystery. 1st in a series

a
ampie
Jul 28, 2010

Flavia de Luce is an 11 yr. old chemistry whiz. She has two older sisters with whom she is at odds. Her father, a philatelist, is distant and unavailable and she is largely parented by the housekeeper and the gardener. She helps solve the murder of one of her father's school friends who is found dead in the garden.

black_cat Jul 05, 2010

An adult book but can be read by advanced younger readers. Main character is a young, strong female who finds herself in danger while investigating a mystery that arrived at her doorstep.

Quotes

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g
geraldine9
May 24, 2018

"As I stood outside Cow Lane, 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."

deborahg99 Aug 04, 2016

"As I stood outside Cow Lane, 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."

e
estherpatricia
Aug 20, 2015

“I remembered a piece of sisterly advice, which Feely once gave Daffy and me:
"If ever you're accosted by a man," she'd said, "kick him in the Casanovas and run like blue blazes!"
Although it had sounded at the time like a useful bit of intelligence, the only problem was that I didn't know where the Casanovas were located.
I'd have to think of something else.”

m
mking
Feb 02, 2010

"I was me. I was Flavia. And I loved myself, even if no one else did." - p 59

m
michael12
Oct 29, 2009

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.

Age

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mlabreche11 May 28, 2013

mlabreche11 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

cino1 May 03, 2011

cino1 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

h
hil_elrick
Dec 21, 2010

hil_elrick thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Amie Jun 10, 2009

Amie thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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