Thursday, July 14, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Here is a summary of the book from the author's website:

Great literary crime detectives aren’t always born; they’re sometimes discovered, blindfolded and tied up in a dark closet by their nasty older sisters. Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce’s bitter home life and vicious sibling war inspires her solitary diversions and “strange talents” tinkering with the chemistry set in the laboratory of their inherited Victorian house, plotting sleuth-like vengeance on Ophelia (17) and Daphne (13), and delving into the forbidden past of her taciturn, widowed father, Colonel de Luce. It comes as no surprise, then, that the material for her next scientific investigation will be the mysterious corpse that she uncovers in the cucumber patch. 

Fearless and darkly imaginative, Flavia hurries to solve the murder and acquit her father of suspicion. Following the lead of its clever protagonist, Sweetness is entirely inventive, fast-paced, and quick-witted, with tongue-in-cheek humour that derides the macabre seriousness of subject.

Alan Bradley plants the story deep into the setting of 1950s England, with a portrait of an eccentric home life that is all too wickedly familiar. The story’s twists are supported by the time and place as well as the unusual interests of the characters which range from stamp-collecting to making poisons all of which are highly researched and ingeniously incorporated.

My Review:
I have read some very interesting reviews of this book, but it had been so long after reading reviews that I really did not know what to expect with this novel.  It was a quite an enjoyable audiobook and the narration by Jayne Entwistle made it even more enjoyable!  I am glad that I didn't realize that this book is actually the first in a series as I have been trying to stay away from getting caught up in new series.  I will probably follow this one through audiobooks so that should be fun!

Flavia de Luce is a fascinating eleven year old girl who also happens to be our little heroine.  She finds herself fascinated by chemistry, but especially poisons, and you catch glimpses of this obsession throughout the novel as she thinks of ways to experiment on her sisters.

Flavia finds a new way to occupy her time after stumbling upon a dead body in the garden.  She is surprised when she realizes that the dead body is someone that she heard arguing with her father in the study the evening before.  She can't help but launch her own investigation to find out who exactly killed the mysterious man found in the garden.

It is understandable that Flavia would think that her father is the main suspect, considering the argument that she overheard.  After her father explains to her how he knew the man who is now a corpse, she gets to know a side of her father that she has never seen before.  He opens up to her in a way that makes her realize that he could never commit a crime of this magnitude.

This was a delightful mystery that takes us back to 1950's England and gives us a glimpse into a conspiracy that was created revolving around some very rare postage stamps.  I loved this novel that was told from young Flavia's perspective as her life, energy and humor resonated throughout.  I do not hesitate in recommending this novel as an audiobook to listen to.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this audiobook from my local library and listened to it for my own entertainment.


Marie said...

Very nice review. I'm reading this series and have enjoyed all of the books. I can't wait for the next one.

Veens said...

This started out slow for me but I really did enjoy it a lot. All the tit-bits aboutstamps and all that~! Enjoyable!

bermudaonion said...

Jayne Entwistle's narration was excellent! She's Flavia as far as I'm concerned.

Marce said...

Flavia was my favourite character last year. I want to continue the series but haven't yet.

I also prefer stand alone's but continue to find myself reading the 1st of a trilogy or series, sigh

Jenny Girl said...

I'm interested in this book however, I've seen mixed reviews. Glad you enjoyed this and I will definitely give this one a try.