My, my, my. What a book. Flavia de Luce might be my new favourite literary heroine of all time.
The Alan Bradley books were recommended to me by my brother some months ago and it seems my entire family had already deeply ensconced themselves in Flavia’s World before even bothering to mention it to me. (The cads!)
I’m sort of glad though because its always nice to stand at the doorway of something wonderful and know that you have a lot to dig into. All those books are there for the taking! I will have to pace myself of course, it wouldn’t do to gorge myself too soon.
The Sweetness is just lovely, conjuring up gorgeous imagery with its language. Set in 1950, it tells the tale of tenacious 11-year-old Chemistry obsessive, Flavia Sabina de Luce, the youngest of three girls and daughter of gruff Colonel de Luce.
Flavia’s main interests are pottering about her inner sanctum (her beloved laboratory), paying special attention to poisons and their effect; and plotting revenge on her sometimes cruel (but always hilarious) older sisters.
I love the to and fro between sisters and in some ways I want more from the domestic set up than I do the mystery since their family history is so rich. Colonel de Luce is a cold fish with minimal input in the girls’ lives other than to teach them to fear ‘the instrument’ (telephone) and to stare them down at meal times.
The girls’ mother has passed on, gone missing during a mountaineering trip in Tibet ten years previously. Despite this she, Harriet, is everywhere and mentioned often, at least she permeates Flavia’s inner monologue.
But to the mystery. One afternoon, the de Luces’ cook finds a dead bird on the door step, it’s beak piercing a postage stamp. Colonel de Luce damn near loses his shiz and withdraws completely, leaving Flavia to ponder why.
She doesn’t have long to mull it over though as the next thing we know she has discovered a body in the garden and all Hell breaks loose. Who was the dying man, as he had been when she found him, and what was he doing in their garden?
Well, this is where I shuffle off and you find out for yourself. All I can say is that Flavia is a fiesty girl with an eye for detail and I’m pretty confident you’ll be falling for her as hard as I did.
One of the reasons I like her so much is because she’s so fiercely feminist. When one of the Police Officers called to the scene dares to suggest she pop off to the kitchen to make tea and leave them to their investigation, she is outraged. Damn right!
Can’t wait for the next in the series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag. Did I mention the epic titles? The stuff of book lover’s dreams!
- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
- Publisher: Orion (4 Feb 2010)
- ISBN-10: 0752883216
- ISBN-13: 978-0752883212
- Bought paperback (secondhand)
*Please note: Photo is not mine