The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie by Alan Bradley

It’s the summer of 1950 and twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is tinkering away in her chemical lab inside the once great house of Buckshaw, in a sleepy English village.  The lab is an inheritance from her passed on mother and eccentric uncle.  And Flavia loves it, after all she has a gifted mind for mixing chemicals and the study of poisons. 

One morning Flavia left the comforts of the lab for a stroll around the acreage she calls home and after finding a dead bird on the doorstep with a postage stamp stuck on its beak,, to her surprise (and delight) she discovers a body among the cucumber patch.  While the police seem to be taking their own sweet time making error after error in trying to solve the crime, Flavia decided to solve the crime herself. 

Welcome to Flavia de Luce’s world. 
For Flavia, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “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.”

"Flavia de Luce", "Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie", Alan Bradley"
Flavia makes an appearance is three more books...

Finally I find myself exploring Alan Bradleys books.  I knew nothing going in.  I did not know that The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie was the first in a series of Flavia De Luce novels… see…. out of loop…. 

I went into this one on audio and my first initial thought was I thought it sounded a bit like the Bloody Jack audio books (stories of a wild and smart tom boyish young girl), and the narration of Jayne Entwistle gave it that feel, which excited me as the Bloody Jack audio are fantastic!

The story line of our young detective Flavia, is fun.  She it witty.  She is smart beyond her years.  She has siblings that do not play strong enough parts (at least in this book) for me to even remember their names, but she being the youngest, and seemingly the smartest, has a bit of fun with them that makes their back seat roles in this read favorable and “smile worthy”.

While I found the writing rich, the narration with the strong accent delightful, I can not say I loved it.  I think for starters I could not wrap my head around Flavia being twelve and working in a chemical lab and being as smart and as able to get around the way she did …

it just didn’t mesh for me – and yeah, I know I am in the minority on this one.

So my thoughts are if you enjoy well written (and well read) books that may be a bit far-fetched but certainly fun… you will want to give the Flavia de Luce mysteries a try.  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first of the books. #2 – The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag,#3- A Red Herring Without Mustard and #4, I am Half-Sick of Shadows.

See some other reviews from bloggers that I trust:

Beth Fish Reads

Rhapsody In Books

Book Lover Book Reviews

Amy Reads

I borrowed this audio from our awesome library

29 thoughts on “The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie by Alan Bradley

  1. I wonder if the audio was part of the problem. I’m not sure who read this book, but I listened to the second book on audio and I *hated* it. I loved the first and third book, though. It was definitely the narration that made me hate it so much.

  2. While I thought the Jayne Entwhistle was perfectly cast and directed for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, she also paradoxically grated on my nerves so much that I ended up hating the book! I tried to go to print for the second title in the series; but I still had J.E.’s voice in my head. Jayne & Falvia have become inseparably associated with each other in my mind and, as a result, the whole series is a no-go for me now 😦

  3. I honestly loved Flavia’s precociousness, and I’ve met some pretty darn smart kiddos. Sorry this wasn’t a favorite for you, but I will say I think they get better as the series goes along.

  4. Ha ha…I love the Out of the Loop illustration!!

    I enjoyed Sweetness but didn’t love it. I had no problem with the believability, though. I thought it was light and fun – perfect for mystery lovers. I enjoy a mystery once in a while but I’m not a major fan of the genre (which is funny because I used to be).

    Anyway, nice review –


  5. I really enjoyed one and two but for some reason I haven’t went any further than that! I am so going to read the first Bloody Jack on Audio!! Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. I like your views, even if you didn’t like it, it provides me another view for when I do read it, because it is on my list, I can be prepared for what it really is about. I think sometimes us knowing something about the book helps and other times we should just go in blind. Thanks for your review 🙂

  7. I am almost half way through this book and can agree with you on some of your takes on this unique offering. I find Flavia’s interest/obsession in chemistry close to unbelievable for an 11 yo. The dialogue engrossing and quite deep. I am reading this on my kindle which I enjoy immensely. Did not know it was available on CD. May look that up at my library.

      1. There are only a few books that I’ve enjoyed enough to go back and listen to them on a CD. This series is remarkably unique and Flavia is absolutely (in my opinion) captivating. I loved the CD’s. Jayne Entwhistle was Flavia in every sense of the character. Loved this series and thoroughly enjoyed the CD’s.

  8. I always read these and didn’t do audio and I wonder how it would translate. It is hard to believe her age — she is mighty precocious but I do so enjoy her worldview!

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