Monday, March 30, 2009
Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
"The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" by Alan Bradley
Published by Doubleday Canada, a division of Random House of Canada
Rating: 5 stars
This book has already been released in Canada and the UK, and can be pre-ordered in the U.S. until its offical release on April 28, 2009 from Delacorte Press!
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is set in the summer of 1950, following Flavia de Luce as she attempts to solve the mystery of the man who was found dead in her family's cucumber patch in the early hours of the morning. Upon the discovery of the dead body body, Flavia thinks: “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." With her determination and resourcefulness, Flavia investigates the murder which seems to be mysteriously linked to the presence of a dead bird found with a stamp on its beak on her front doorstep earlier that day. Although Flavia is only eleven years old, she is a very precocious girl who can often be found in her chemistry working on a new experiment. With her powers of deduction she begins narrowing down the suspects and learns more than even she thought possible.
I first heard about "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" while reading a review in my local newspaper , The Montreal Gazette, which got me very interested. I also recently read a great article about Mr. Bradley from The National Post which is worth checking out!
At first it may seem strange to hear Mr. Bradley and others speaking about Flavia de Luce as if she were a real person, but after reading this book it's hard not to feel personally connected to her. It's all too easy to forget that the story was not written by this eleven-year old prodigy herself! Her vivacious and inquisitive personality make her one of the most endearing and likeable characters I've read about in a long time. From the way she concocts her potions in the chemistry lab to her Sherlock Holmes-like detective skills, she captured my attention but more importantly my admiration and respect. Although an eleven-year old detective may seem unlikely, you just have to read the book to understand how all of the elements of the story work together so beautifully. The secondary characters are also eccentric and really great in their supporting roles, adding some interesting flavor to The Sweetnes at the Bottom of the Pie!
In addition to the marvelous cast of characters, the storyline itself is brilliantly crafted. There are a number of unexpected plot twists and everything so wonderfully in the end. I wish I could say more but I don't want to spoil anything because this is a story best left to the narrative skills of one Ms. Flavia.
Thankfully, this book is the first installment in a Flavia de Luce trilogy so there is much to look forward to from Mr. Bradley in the future!
Watch this wonderful promotional video from Blanvalet (Random House) Germany, where the German language version "Mord im Gurkenbeet" ("Death In the Cucumber Patch") will be published in June. It's actually really close to how I pictured Flavia!
Don't forget to join the Flavia de Luce fan club!
BIG THANKS to Mr. Bradley, Sharon and Random House for my review copy.