Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
10. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - first in the Flavia de Luce series
by Alan Bradley
I have been waiting for this for ages. I had the paperback on pre-order from The Book Depository, and began to read almost as soon as it arrived. I like the cover much better than the more familiar one with the dead bird.
This book report will likely come as a surprise to you. I know it does to me. I just didn't care much for this book. I know. I'm amazed. I was just positive I was going to not just like it, but love it. It seemed perfect. Young girl, 1950, England, a mystery. All the components of a great story for me. Right from the start I didn't like it. I didn't like the cruelty of the sisters toward Flavia. I didn't like the names: Ophelia, nicknamed 'Feely;' Daphne, 'Daffy;' Flavia, 'Flave'.
Flavia just didn't seem real to me. She was not an endearing character to me. I just thought she was weird. Probably a genius. Probably a savant. Certainly a lonely, and possibly a not loved, little girl. Her language and her literary, scientific, and cultural references simply seemed unbelievable to me. And her penchant for poisons is more than a little weird. She is fascinated by death. Her mother died in a mountaineering accident when Flavia was very small, and sadly she has no memories of her mother. For some reason, as I read the book, I kept thinking we were going to find out that it was either 1. not an accident or 2. she didn't really die. But nothing whatsoever happened to confirm my wonderings. Flavia and her sisters do not get along. The book opens with Flavia tied up and locked in a room by her sisters. There is an incident where Flavia puts a chemical concoction in her sister's lipstick which makes her lips swell. I didn't like these cruel acts. They weren't amusing or interesting to me. Just mean.
There is a fairly involved mystery, but sadly this didn't interest me either. I simply did not feel an involvement in the book. I didn't care for any of the characters. I realize I am in the minority. In fact, I have read only raves about this book. I've read it compared to I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Strangely enough that is a book I really enjoyed. But not this one. It is quite unusual for me to stay with a book I don't enjoy. I just kept thinking I *must* like this book. But I didn't.