The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

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: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying b...

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Title:The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author:Alan Bradley
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie Reviews

  • David

    I absolutely loved Sweetness. The narrator-protagonist is one of the cleverest, liveliest, most entertaining characters I have had the pleasure to meet in many a year. I laughed aloud many times and couldn't wait to get back to reading this gem. Flavia is the 11-year-old daughter of a widower in England in the 50s. She loves science and mystery, despises her haughty clueless sisters, and is plotting to poison them and get away with it. When mysterious crimes happen at the family home, she thrust

    I absolutely loved Sweetness. The narrator-protagonist is one of the cleverest, liveliest, most entertaining characters I have had the pleasure to meet in many a year. I laughed aloud many times and couldn't wait to get back to reading this gem. Flavia is the 11-year-old daughter of a widower in England in the 50s. She loves science and mystery, despises her haughty clueless sisters, and is plotting to poison them and get away with it. When mysterious crimes happen at the family home, she thrusts herself into solving them.

    I have a definite soft spot for wit and humor in fiction and this book hit it out of the park on that score. Add to the mix a good mystery and the prospect of many more stories to come featuring this spunky scientist pre-teen and I am really excited!

  • Felicia

    This book probably deserves 4 stars, but to me, as far as how much I enjoyed it, 5 stars baby!

    Having just read Steig Larssen's "

    " I hadn't expected to stumble on a heroine as quickly that I'd love as much. But Flavia fits the bill!

    This is a historical mystery, set in England in the late 40's/ (51 maybe?) Anyway, Flavia is 11 going on 40. She's a genius, perhaps a mad one, who knows. She is drawn into a wonderful mystery that I don't want to spoil, but her tenacity and

    This book probably deserves 4 stars, but to me, as far as how much I enjoyed it, 5 stars baby!

    Having just read Steig Larssen's "

    " I hadn't expected to stumble on a heroine as quickly that I'd love as much. But Flavia fits the bill!

    This is a historical mystery, set in England in the late 40's/ (51 maybe?) Anyway, Flavia is 11 going on 40. She's a genius, perhaps a mad one, who knows. She is drawn into a wonderful mystery that I don't want to spoil, but her tenacity and drive and clever deductions make for a wonderful read. She reminds me of what I would have loved to be at 11, independent and forward and free. Yes, sometimes I got ahead of her in solving some clues, but honestly I think the author intended it, as she IS 11 (which is easy to forget when she is so precocious.)

    I love loved this book and will eagerly await another adventure with Flavia.

  • Tatiana

    Flavia de Luce is an 11-year old amateur sleuth, a future chemist and poison enthusiast. She lives with her widowed father and two older sisters at Buckshaw - a decaying English country-side mansion. Flavia's days are occupied with chemical experiments and schemes of spiking her evil older sister Ophelia's lipstick with poison ivy. That is until one fateful day a dead bird with a postage stamp stuck to its beak is found on the doorstep of Buckshaw. Even more, soon after Flavia finds a dead man i

    Flavia de Luce is an 11-year old amateur sleuth, a future chemist and poison enthusiast. She lives with her widowed father and two older sisters at Buckshaw - a decaying English country-side mansion. Flavia's days are occupied with chemical experiments and schemes of spiking her evil older sister Ophelia's lipstick with poison ivy. That is until one fateful day a dead bird with a postage stamp stuck to its beak is found on the doorstep of Buckshaw. Even more, soon after Flavia finds a dead man in the cucumber patch and witnesses his last breath. Flavia is not shocked or upset by the event (after all, she doesn't even know the man). Quite the opposite, she is energized and excited - finally she can apply her genius brain to something useful - to solving a crime!

    At the core of the novel is a murder mystery. It is not particularly complicated or mind-blowing, it is rather easy to solve. But the strength of "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" is not in the mystery. It is in the setting, an amusing cast of characters, and mainly - in its narrator. Flavia is a charming heroine with a very distinct "voice" that is a perfectly blended combination of childish innocence and book smarts.

    "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" is a delight to read. It is light and has an air of innocence about it. The story is set in 1950 (although it feels like a decade or two earlier at times), the time when 11-year old girls could still ride their bicycles to the nearby villages without the fear of being snatched by some psycho, and it's a relief to read a book without constantly freaking out about a child's safety.

    I think this book will appeal to a lot of people who enjoy reading mysteries without gore and excessive violence, those who are looking for a comfort read, an English country-side mystery sprinkled with humor, poisons, and philately.

  • Dan Schwent

    When young Flavia de Luce, aspiring chemist, finds a body in the cucumber patch outside her father's house, she finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and murder...

    I'm not really sure how my love of detective fiction led me to this tale of an eleven year old girl in 1950s England solving a mystery involving stamps but I'm glad it did.

    Flavia de Luce is a precocious English girl with a passion for chemistry in general and poisons in particular. She lives in an English country house with her fa

    When young Flavia de Luce, aspiring chemist, finds a body in the cucumber patch outside her father's house, she finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and murder...

    I'm not really sure how my love of detective fiction led me to this tale of an eleven year old girl in 1950s England solving a mystery involving stamps but I'm glad it did.

    Flavia de Luce is a precocious English girl with a passion for chemistry in general and poisons in particular. She lives in an English country house with her father and two sisters, Ophelia and Daphne. The mystery component of the book is secondary to the delightful antics of Flavia. She's funny as hell and wise beyond her years.

    Bradley's writing takes what probably would have been a two star mystery and kicks things up several notches. The writing style reminds me of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers with a pinch of P.G. Wodehouse and was a delight to read.

    The mystery itself isn't that great, although Bradley red herring-ed my ass about a fourth of the way through. Parts of it reminded me of Nancy Drew and others reminded me of the cozy mysteries of yore. I was less than 100 pages in when I resolved to read the entire series.

    Four out of five stars. I'm looking forward to reading more adventures of Flavia de Luce.

  • Kathryn

    "There are times, Miss de Luce... when you deserve a brass medal. And there are other times when you deserve to be sent to your room with bread and water." -- Inspector Hewitt to Flavia de Luce: budding sleuth, brilliant chemist, and diabolical eleven-year-old.

    After very high hopes, I almost gave up on "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" after about seven chapters, finding little literary sweetness to induce in me a hunger to devour the remaining pages. Yet, the overwhelmingly positive revi

    "There are times, Miss de Luce... when you deserve a brass medal. And there are other times when you deserve to be sent to your room with bread and water." -- Inspector Hewitt to Flavia de Luce: budding sleuth, brilliant chemist, and diabolical eleven-year-old.

    After very high hopes, I almost gave up on "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" after about seven chapters, finding little literary sweetness to induce in me a hunger to devour the remaining pages. Yet, the overwhelmingly positive reviews of the book made me continue and I am glad I did, though I do not think my praise is quite so high as most readers' thus far.

    The opening chapter grabbed me, and then I was rather bored for several chapters. I could not picture Flavia as an eleven-year-old, she just didn't really SEEM like one, even if this was 1950s England. I am still not sure or how much I cared what happened to her, yet the story was interesting enough. Aside from Dogger, I really didn't feel much empathy for any of the characters but they managed to make an amusing enough group, Mr. de Luce and his lack of emotion for anything but stamp collecting, Flavia's older sisters Daphne and Ophilia, one with a love of make-up and the other with a love of reading... Nothing too original here.

    Flaiva herself is quite the character, and I feel the above quote and description sum her up well. While I admire her bravery and loyalty to her family in solving the crime, and her intelligence at solving it accurately, I really could not LIKE her. She is the sort of child one finds amusing enough in books, but would not wish to stand next to in line for a ride at Disneyland. Her intelligence sprawls out into dangerous territory, since her love of chemistry tends to making up toxic concoctions, and one of her experiments includes putting some nasty mixture on her sisters' lipstick and waiting to see the results. Oh, dear, sibling rivalry tossed with youthful genius!

    The mystery was not all that astounding. I guessed most of it myself at one point or another and I just didn't care enough about the characters to be really riveted. Sometimes, Bradley's writing drug on a bit, or got a weighted down with analogy. Still, overall this was an enjoyable read and good for those who tend to enjoy cozy mysteries as there is very little gore or violence and it's pretty clear, based on the pending sequel, that Flavia will pull through!

  • Trin

    A historical mystery, set in England, narrated by a precocious 11-year-old girl. I feel like I should have loved this, but mostly it just bored me. Flavia’s narration, designed to show off how brilliant she is, lacked the necessary wit and charm, and her investigation into a couple of murders and some missing stamps was full of weird leaps of logic and sideways-step conclusions. I never felt involved or like any part of the story was real or mattered.

  • Hannah

    I really wanted to like this more then I ended up doing. The story started off slowly, then picked up steam with a murder to solve and some interesting backstory on stamps. What hindered my enjoyment of the book, the story and the murder mystery was, unfortunately, the main character and detective: Flavia duLuce.

    To say that young Flavia is precocious is an understatement. She has to be one of the most intelligent, well spoken, criminal minds since Sherlock Holmes. Problem is, she's only 11 years

    I really wanted to like this more then I ended up doing. The story started off slowly, then picked up steam with a murder to solve and some interesting backstory on stamps. What hindered my enjoyment of the book, the story and the murder mystery was, unfortunately, the main character and detective: Flavia duLuce.

    To say that young Flavia is precocious is an understatement. She has to be one of the most intelligent, well spoken, criminal minds since Sherlock Holmes. Problem is, she's only 11 years old, and she's totally unbelievable to me. Hey, I respect intelligent fictional kids as crime solvers - I grew up reading

    for pete's sake. But Flavia's brand of intelligence is far beyond what I can believe or accept in a pint-size crime solver. As a result, I spent the majority of the book rolling my eyes over the things she said, the deductions she made, and the way she handled the sticky situations she found herself in.

    Look, I can suspend my belief in unbelievable books when the author creates a world that I can accept. (Case in point: a 100 year old sparkling virgin vampire). Flavia, however, resisted all my attempts to reconcile and readjust my mind-set to embrace. She's obviously got a goodly number of admirers. As for me, I side with her sisters in wanting to lock her in a dark closet and keep her there...

  • Nancy

    A mystery about a precocious child, whom I would like to like, but suspect that she would not be enjoyable to be around. Flavia, when not tormenting her eldest sister, attempts to solve a murder in 1950 in Great Britain. I wanted to like this book, as much as the title appealed to me, but only finished out of a sense of duty, having bought the book based on the reviews rather than borrowing it. A good lesson, to remind me of the perils of random purchasing.

    My quibbles, if anyone is so interested

    A mystery about a precocious child, whom I would like to like, but suspect that she would not be enjoyable to be around. Flavia, when not tormenting her eldest sister, attempts to solve a murder in 1950 in Great Britain. I wanted to like this book, as much as the title appealed to me, but only finished out of a sense of duty, having bought the book based on the reviews rather than borrowing it. A good lesson, to remind me of the perils of random purchasing.

    My quibbles, if anyone is so interested:

    1) Eleven? Really? Hard to bite on that premise, as her being little older would have been less of a strain on the imagination, not a lot, but it would have helped.

    2) Perhaps the first person narrative added to the believability challenge; her descriptions/observations were not in keeping with her age or experience (e.g. in Ch. 5 " Now, a quarter century after the last Lagonda had rolled out of its doors, the building had fallen, like old crockery in the servant's quarters, into a kind of chipped and broken decrepitude." Or this little beauty from Ch.12 " ... as if some sour old chamberlain were looking on dyspeptically as his mistress unfurled silk stockings over her long, youthful legs.") I had no problems with the observations themselves, just that their source was an eleven-year-old, genius or not. A third person narrative might have been less jarring, though still rather over-written (if not purple prose then at least mauve).

    3) Perhaps her knowledge of so many topics, not just having taught herself chemistry, but books, movies and music was just a little too much to swallow. Specific references include: "The Third Man" 1949, "Cinderella" 1950 (if it played in GB as it was only in limited release in the US in 1950 - although perhaps besides the gramophone she also had a record player and a copy of the one of the 1949 78-rpm recordings),"We Dive at Dawn 1943", "Modern Times" 1936 (the last Little Tramp film), "A Matter of Life and Death" 1946; various titled classical music pieces with some rather strong opinions and composer preferences. And apparently she also was conversant with her history and Olivier, picturing him as Henry II, in a quote which sounds Shakespearean, but isn't. Also Poe, du Maurier, Stephen Leacock, Gilbert and Sullivan, netsuke, lock-picking and the prison system (Wormwood Scrubs). Quite impressive, since in 1950 she wasn't attending school; good thing she was self motivated.

    Maybe the author was trying to anchor the book into the time and place, but the references had the opposite effect of reassuring me, drawing my attention and distracting me from the story itself (as should be obvious by the fact I looked up some of the info stated above).

    Since this is the author's first book, I might be inclined to borrow the second book and see if there are any stylistic improvements, but suspect that, with all the accolades for book one, there would be little incentive to do so.

  • Carol

    So ... I'm the outlier. I cannot abide Flavia de Luce - yes, the same Flavia de Luce that everyone else in the reading universe - or at least the subset of those who enjoy mysteries - loves, adores, enjoys. For months I hid my outlier status by changing the applicable shelf from "currently reading" to "to read", but have decided that today I shall end the deception and own my outlier status. I am a grown woman. I can handle the blow back from admitting that being forced to read one more page rel

    So ... I'm the outlier. I cannot abide Flavia de Luce - yes, the same Flavia de Luce that everyone else in the reading universe - or at least the subset of those who enjoy mysteries - loves, adores, enjoys. For months I hid my outlier status by changing the applicable shelf from "currently reading" to "to read", but have decided that today I shall end the deception and own my outlier status. I am a grown woman. I can handle the blow back from admitting that being forced to read one more page relating to Flavia de Luce would be an effective means of torture for anyone seeking a method to use on me, for future reference. I shall not read Bradley's novels in a box, or with a fox. So help me, God.

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