Book Review|The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Book Review | The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

“As I stood outside in Cow Lane, it occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

No … eight days a week.”

Unusually precocious eleven-year-old Flavia is the youngest of three sisters and entertains herself by pursing her passion, Chemistry. Her specially is poisons.

“If there is a thing I truly despise, it is being addressed as “dearie.” When I write my magnum opus, A Treatise Upon All Poison, and come to “Cyanide,” I am going to put under “Uses” the phrase “Particularly efficacious in the cure of those who call one ‘Dearie.” 

Set in the English countryside, 1950, the story plunges us into mystery, murder, that is.

Flavia is not one to ignore an interesting possibility. A dead Jacksnipe is found at the kitchen door, apparently a secret message to her father.  On a following day, in pre-dawn hours, Flavia goes down to the garden and finds a body amongst the cucumber plants. Before expiring, the victim whispers vale. Latin for goodbye.

“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.” 

And so begins Flavia’s quest to pursue the solution to this mystery that has been dropped at her doorstep, so to speak. Twists, turns and raising of stakes propel us along with Flavia as she searches for answers and takes it upon herself to save the day and her father, who has been charged with murder.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a delightful read. Clever Flavia is thoroughly entertaining. Not a deep, thought provoking read, but excellent light-hearted fun.

Flavia does occasionally express herself with colorful language.


I listened to the audio book version read by Jayne Entwistle and I believe her performance may have added a bit to my enjoyment. She’s a very good reader.

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