Monday, May 25, 2009

Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

It is 1950 and Flavia de Luce, an 11-year-old aspiring chemist, has found a dead body on the lawn of her family’s estate. Deciding that it’s the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to her, the precocious Flavia decides to beat the police at their own game and solve the mystery herself, especially when suspicion falls on her reclusive father.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie reminded me of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events books, with its gothic mood and plot twists. With her sharp wit and eagerness to prove she was smarter than the adults, Flavia reminded me of Harriet the Spy (the character). Unlike the Lemony Snicket books or Harriet the Spy, Sweetness was written as an adult book. For me, this book would have been much stronger had it been aimed at teens, instead. While the subject matter (including murder, depression, and PTSD) was adult, I felt like the writing was too young, maybe because the story is told from Flavia's point of view.

I think this book is really a matter of taste. Harriet the Spy always annoyed me and Flavia was no different. But I think a lot of people will really like this book. I just wasn’t one of them.

Here are some other (favorable) opinions:
The Guardian
Entertainment Weekly
Lesa's Book Critiques
A Bookworm's World

In addition, in 2007, author Alan Bradley won the Debut Dagger Award of the Crimewriters’ Association for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I think I am in the minority opinion on this one.

Buy The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie on Amazon.

Visit Alan Bradley’s website.


  1. Hey Lorin

    I loved Harriet when I was younger and you know I loved Flavia. This is the great thing about blogs - so many differing reviews! Thanks for the link!

  2. I really appreciate it when reviews are frank like this, thank you! It's so good to hear different perspectives. Helps me decide whether a book is right for me. :)

  3. Thanks for your encouragement! I felt weird about posting this review - it wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't for me. I think a lot of other people would love it, though.


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