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1 Burnside Mystery- A to Z

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie Cover

ISBN13: 9780385342308
ISBN10: 0385342306
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

Reader's Guide

1. With her high level of knowledge, her erudition and her self-reliance, Flavia hardly seems your typical eleven-year-old girl. Or does she? Discuss Flavia and her personality, and how her character drives this novel. Can you think of other books that have used a similar protagonist?

2. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie falls within the tradition of English country house mysteries, but with the devilishly intelligent Flavia racing around Bishop's Lacey on her bike instead of the expected older woman ferreting out the truth by chatting with her fellow villagers. Discuss how Bradley uses the traditions of the genre, and how he plays with them too.

3. What is your favorite scene from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie?

4. With her excessive interest in poisons and revenge, it's no surprise that Flavia is fascinated, not scared, as she watches the stranger die in her garden. In your view, is her dark matter-of-factness more refreshing or disturbing?

5. Flavia reminds us often about Harriet, the mother she never knew, and has many keepsakes that help her imagine what she was like. Do you think the real Harriet would have fit into Flavia's mold?

6. Flavia's distance from her father, the Colonel, is obvious, yet she loves him all the same. Does their relationship change over the course of the novel in a lasting way? Would Flavia want it to?

7. Through Flavia's eyes, what sort of a picture does Alan Bradley paint of the British aristocracy? Think as well about how appearances aren't always reality, as with the borderline bankruptcy of Flavia's father and Dr. Kissing.

8. Discuss the meaning (or meanings) of the title The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

9. What twists in the plot surprised you the most?

10. Buckshaw, the estate, is almost a character in its own right here, with its overlarge wings, hidden laboratory, and pinched front gates. Talk about how Bradley brings the setting to life in this novel — not only Buckshaw itself, but Bishop's Lacey and the surrounding area.

11. What does Flavia care about most in life? How do the people around her compare to her chemistry lab and books?

12. Like any scientist, Flavia expects her world to obey certain rules, and seems to be thrown off kilter when surprises occur. How much does she rely on the predictability of those around her, like her father and her sisters, in order to pursue her own interests (like solving the murder)?

Copyright Random House 2009

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

secretlysam, September 11, 2011 (view all comments by secretlysam)
An amazing series about a twelve year old master chemist who just happens to be the perfect sleuth. BAttling her teen sisters and finding her way to a better relationship with her distant father, the clever but senstive Flavia De Luce is one of my favorite characters in any book, of all time.
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LyndaT, January 14, 2010 (view all comments by LyndaT)
"The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" covered a lot of my favorite themes and genres -- a love of plucky young heroines, historical novels (even those as recent as the 1950s), English country house stories, mysteries, quirky characters, and humor. This book has all that, and more, rolled into one satisfying read.

I look forward to more novels from Alan Bradley starring the funny and interesting Flavia de Luce.
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carolinbisbee, January 6, 2010 (view all comments by carolinbisbee)
An old-fashioned good mystery with all the elements of a good story too; clever, strong characters, twists in the plot, satisfying ending. It is also first in a series to be published by this Canadian author so we have more to look forward to. I always enjoy a story with a smart young hero or heroine. "Sweetness" just reinforces that for me.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385342308
Subtitle:
A Flavia de Luce Mystery
Author:
Bradley, Alan
Author:
Bradley, C. Alan
Author:
Bradley, Alan
Publisher:
Delacorte Press
Subject:
Sisters
Subject:
England
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Historical
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090428
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
6.87x6.07x1.20 in. .88 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » Historical

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$13.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Delacorte Press - English 9780385342308 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This beguiling debut from 70-year-old Alan Bradley has been worth the wait, an enchanting and masterfully told mystery that reveals itself at a perfect pace. Clever and delightfully devilish, Flavia de Luce is an intriguing young heroine that you'll be sad to part with.

"Staff Pick" by ,

If Nancy Mitford wrote I Capture the Castle or Cold Comfort Farm and starred in them Harriet the Spy you'd have something close to the quirky charm of Bradley's Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Even if you figure out the probable culprit before it's unveiled in the book, the joy is in following the sleuthing of the intrepid Flavia. Reading this book is especially delightful when paired with a cup of tea and a slice of sweet, sweet pie.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Fans of Louise Fitzhugh's iconic Harriet the Spy will welcome 11-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce, the heroine of Canadian journalist Bradley's rollicking debut. In an early 1950s English village, Flavia is preoccupied with retaliating against her lofty older sisters when a rude, redheaded stranger arrives to confront her eccentric father, a philatelic devotee. Equally adept at quoting 18th-century works, listening at keyholes and picking locks, Flavia learns that her father, Colonel de Luce, may be involved in the suicide of his long-ago schoolmaster and the theft of a priceless stamp. The sudden expiration of the stranger in a cucumber bed, wacky village characters with ties to the schoolmaster, and a sharp inspector with doubts about the colonel and his enterprising young detective daughter mean complications for Flavia and enormous fun for the reader. Tantalizing hints about a gardener with a shady past and the mysterious death of Flavia's adventurous mother promise further intrigues ahead." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Bradley won a Dagger award and multi-book deal when one of the judges was captivated by Flavia's character. Her charm continues to mesmerize, the book is now sold in 19 countries and, since its release in the U.S. this spring, has launched onto indie best-seller lists. Locally, it's a staff favorite at Broadway Books and Powell's, and has close to 200 folks signed up waiting for a copy from the Multnomah County Library." Peggy McMullen, The Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review
"Review" by , "While Flavia De Luce is winning your heart, she may also be poisoning your tea. She's the most wickedly funny sleuth in years, brilliant, unpredictable, unflappable — and only eleven. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie offers the freshest new voice in mystery yet."
"Review" by , "A wickedly clever story, a dead true and original voice, and an English country house in the summer: Alexander McCall Smith meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Please, please, Mr. Bradley, tell me we'll be seeing Flavia again soon?"
"Review" by , "Alan Bradley's marvelous book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, is a fantastic read, a winner. Flavia walks right off the page and follows me through my day. I can hardly wait for the next book. Bravo!"
"Review" by , "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie offers the reader the precious gift of a richly imagined and luscious new world — but uniquely so, for this is the world of Flavia Sabina de Luce: an eleven-year-old, utterly winning, and altogether delightfully nasty piece of work. An outright pleasure from beginning to end."
"Review" by , "Alan Bradley brews a bubbly beaker of fun in his devilishly clever, wickedly amusing debut mystery, launching an eleven-year-old heroine with a passion for chemistry — and revenge! What a delightful, original book!"
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