Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie | Newbery and Beyond

This was a really fun book.  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is an adult mystery book from Alan Bradley, but the protagonist, Flavia, is eleven years old.  (I love me a good child protagonist in an adult fiction book!  The author can imply so much that the protagonist doesn’t explicitly know or understand.)  Flavia is passionate about chemistry, particularly poisons, and she spends much of her time doing experiments in the chemistry lab in a deserted area of her family’s mansion.  When a dying man breathes his last word into Flavia’s face, she turns her energies toward solving the mystery of his murder, which goes back all the way to her father’s school days and a stamp collector’s story.

The story is told by Flavia, so we see only her perspective on the events, including Flavia’s distant relationship with her father, as well as her sisters Ophelia and Daphne.  Of course, Flavia gets into trouble trying to get to the bottom of the mystery (her lock-picking skills are almost equal to her knowledge of chemistry), but that’s part of the fun.  Flavia seems like a real 1950’s British girl, full of slightly rude slang, pranks on her older sisters, and a proclivity for taking her bicycle on long adventures without informing her father.

According to a blurb by the author, he wanted to highlight old-fashioned hobbies and entertainment that were popular in 1950’s England.  This book’s mystery hinged upon stamp collecting, and the next one (I’ve already read it!) centers around puppeteering.  With such an entertaining premise and an endearingly abrasive protagonist, I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

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