I finally finished this book that I got way back in April for my birthday – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. It is quite possibly the best title of a book I have ever read. Immediately drew me in and made me curious as to what it was all about.
The story is set in the 50s in a little village in England. The main character of the story, Flavia, a nearly 11 year old girl with a passion for chemistry and tormenting her older sisters. Sounds a bit odd right? I thought so too but this is brilliantly written. It is very well composed and very witty. You can see the Author has made a very head-strong ad audacious character and sometimes you forget that she is only meant to be 11. But then she says something funny, from the perspective of a child, that reminds you she is only a young girl. That may sound strange but it I really enjoyed reading it.
I like to read about the author in most books I read and Bradley was no exception. He wrote this book in his 60s having never been to England before (though his parents and grandparents were English and moved to South Africa before he was born). He said that he wrote this novel entirely on the things he remembered his grandfather telling him about England, which I think is lovely. I think it is pretty spot on too. Not that I was around in the 50s but the description of the places visited and little village they live in could easily still be around today – not much changes!
The book keeps a good pace, I didn’t get bored once. I hate it when books take a while to get going and this isn’t like that at all. The characters are described well and the events that unfold are clear and interesting. You really get a feel for this middle-class family and the upbringing they have had and why they do or do not do certain things. A sign that something is well written, in my opinion. I really like the 50s era and reading the story gave me a feeling of nostalgia almost, for the type of cars they had and clothing etc.
I would give the book 4/5 and would recommend this to anyone, particularly those that are after a light hearted and fun read. It isn’t a taxing read but it is very engaging and interesting.
The best part? It is the first in a series of stories featuring Flavia, so there is more to come! On to the next one…