I finished The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie at least a month ago. It has taken me a long time to work up to this review. One of the reasons is that I haven’t been feeling well (see previous post). Another reason has been the absolutely hectic holiday schedule. Finally, and probably the most serious reason, I hate writing bad reviews.
I really thought I was going to enjoy Alan Bradley’s debut novel. I heard so many good things about it. I won this novel from The Lost Entwife and I was so excited. It’s essentially about a girl’s attempt at solving the mystery of who murdered the man she found in her garden. It’s set in England, in the 1950s. The girl, Flavia, has two older sisters; they play mean tricks on each other. They have an aloof father, still grieving the death of their mother.
It took me over a month to finish it. Sweetness wasn’t poorly written. The writing was fluid and intelligent. Bradley definitely paints a clear picture. The plot was fine. I didn’t find it incredibly exciting, but I did feel it was original. The main problem I had was with the characters. I couldn’t connect with any of them. I found them all annoying and unrealistic. I suppose I kind of like Dogger, but that was it.
I understood Flavia as an intelligent chemistry genius. She has excellent problem solving skill and a vivid imagination. I just found her interactions with the older (sometimes much older) characters too unbelievable. She is eleven and the police detective just lets her do what she wants. A teenager becomes her co-conspirator, really? I can’t imagine a seventeen-year-old feeling like a child six years younger could be on the same level as her. You’d also think an older sister would be more maternal to her baby sister. There was just so much about the story, not just Flavia, that I found outrageous. Was it all really about a stamp? How could the old professor do that to his stamp? No one seemed real and I wanted to throttle everyone. Because the book was well written, I’d be willing to give Bradley another chance, I just don’t know if I’ll go out of my way to read another of his novels.
The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie is a popular book. I know Marce at Tea Time With Marce loved it and Flavia was her favourite character of 2010. Since it seems that I am an exception, I’ve decided to start doing something with my posts that I haven’t done before. I’m going to include at the bottom other bloggers who have read the same book. They’ll likely be blogs that I read; I’m not planning on doing an crazy web searches, I just don’t have the time. If you’ve read the book, please feel free to leave me a comment or email me and I’ll add your link to the list.