The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley


Flavia de Luce is an eleven year old girl who lives in the grand estate of Buckshaw in England in the 1950’s. She lives there with her widowed father, and her two older sisters. She spends her days antagonizing her sisters and doing chemistry experiments. Until one day, when a dead bird is found on the back doorstep with a postage stamp stuck to its beak, then the next morning she finds a man dead in the cucumber patch.


– #1 in the Flavia de Luce series

– Cozy mystery

– References to chemistry, stamp collecting, books



I often struggle with books when the main character is a child because so often I don’t feel like the child acts, or talks, or behaves like a child. In The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Flavia definitely does not act, or behave like any children I know. She is extremely smart, loves chemistry and knows more about chemistry than anyone I know. She is extremely independent, to the point of continually leaving her home on her bike and riding to different towns miles away with no one in her home having any idea where she is. She is forward and has no problem speaking to adults. She has no fear and thinks she can solve all the problems she faces. She is a character I really should not like but for some reason she works for me and I really enjoyed her. I didn’t always like her, she was so mean to her sisters and sometimes to others. She had a complete disregard for adults and authority. And there were some situations that didn’t seem very feasible. But I found the story and the mystery a fun read anyway. Maybe because Flavia isn’t ever suppose to be like most children her age. I enjoyed the setting of England in 1950 and the small country towns. I enjoyed the bits of English history and I learned about stamp collecting and lots about chemistry, which to be honest went right over my head. I liked the looks at a home when a mother has died and though this wasn’t a huge part of the book I think it did have an affect on the characters. I actually look forward to continuing with the series.

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