Monday, August 17, 2009
Review of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
I can't remember how I heard about this book, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. It's set in England in the 1950's, but it feels like it takes place even earlier. The main character is an 11-year-old girl named Flavia who has two sisters; they live with their father in a family manor with two servants. Flavia's a self-taught chemist and prankster; she and her sisters are constantly "getting even" with each other for various slights (in one scene, we watch Flavia distill the essence of poison ivy into her sister's melted-down lipstick, then re-form the lipstick and place it into her sister's drawer).
Flavia, then, is not your average 11-year-old girl, and when a man dies in their garden late one night, she is delighted to have a crack at the mystery. She travels all through the town and beyond, eventually coming up with all the pieces to solve the puzzle (involving postage stamps, the royal family, conspiracies, magicians, and her father, among others) and at the end, she explains the whole thing to the bemused police.
Flavia may be devious and mischevious, but I quite enjoyed reading her, and am looking forward to the next installment.