The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie Audiobook
By: Alan Bradley
Narrated by: Jayne Entwistle
Random House Audio 4/28/2009
Flavia de Luce Mysteries #1
9 hrs and 53 mins
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie Audiobook Sample
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie Audiobook
The eccentric de Luce household is disrupted from their regular pursuits by two arrivals- one bizarre and the other sinister. Murder is the result. The youngest member of the household, Flavia, turns from her favorite chemistry work to solve a crime that points toward her father as the culprit. This first of a popular well-loved series was a strong first book outing for me. I started with the tenth book, loved it, and came back to get them all in order. I couldn’t help, but notice that the child protégé detective’s stories are met with mixed feelings. Now, there are probably many reasons for this, but I think the two biggest are not being able to connect with Flavia as a lead character or even the entire de Luce clan and possibly the longer explanations over this or that scattered throughout the books such as the time it took to give the history of the rare stamp that features prominently in the story or the long way her father told her what happened during his school days, causing the pace to really bog down in the details.
For those who are familiar with the Sherlock Holmes’ stories, think in terms of how Sherlock and his brother Mycroft were with each other and then imagine them as children- there you have Flavia and her two older sisters. Or hey, even the Addams’ Family kids. Family, but not normal. Flavia is scary-brilliant for an eleven year old with her knowledge of chemistry and her beloved poisons, and, in fact, gets her back up if she gets treated like a child. She also tends to go at things on her own with an independence she learned from being dismissed or ignored. The sisters are abominable to each other, the father distant as they racket about their family’s old country estate near the village of Bishop’s Lacey in rural 1950’s England.
So, I know that is an odd way of starting a review with those cautions, but I guess it depends on whether that sort of thing will pull you in or push you away. Me? I thought the dysfunctional de Luces were fabulous and I had a good time at the horrid antics and slams between the three sisters and was not put off by their widower father’s detachment from it all. The girls are all brilliant in their chosen interests- music, books, chemistry- and scary with how self-sufficient and independently they go about their own pursuits. Though, don’t get the idea that their distracted parent hasn’t taken them to task on behavior and expectation and rules. They are all just the least bit scared when the ‘colonel’ has to call them to task.
There is a daily housekeeper-cook who would love to mother them if they would let her, but they see her as the oddity and not them and then there is Colonel de Luce’s man, Dogger. Dogger is valet, gardener, handyman, driver, and more. He was tortured as a Japanese POW and went through a great deal during WWII so this unusual life in the de Luce household where his troubles (PTSD) are nothing more to the residents of the house than just accepted as part of him make him nearly family. He is the one who offers Flavia her only real glimpses of familial warmth and family and she gives it right back. The mystery was not that difficult to figure out though there were a few little surprises I didn’t see coming. It was fun and exciting watching Flavia nose out the clues, both to the past and the present. The author does a brilliant job conveying a young girl’s mind while at the same time showing she could think circles around many of the adults in her life. The historical setting, the quirky, colorful characters, and the mystery combine for a rather engaging tale. I will definitely be pushing forward with the series.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie Audiobook Narration
The narrator, Jayne Entwistle, is brilliant as Flavia and the rest of the cast of characters between age, gender, and class with her voices. She also somehow conveys the historical period and tone of the story. I saw everything so clearly in my mind with her telling the story.
Alan Bradley. With an education in electronic engineering, Alan worked at numerous radio and television stations in Ontario, and at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University) in Toronto, before becoming Director of Television Engineering in the media centre at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, where he remained for 25 years before taking early retirement to write in 1994.
He became the first President of the Saskatoon Writers, and a founding member of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. His children’s stories were published in The Canadian Children’s Annual, and his short story, Meet Miss Mullen, was the first recipient of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award for Children’s Literature.
Jayne Entwistle. Born in Lytham St. Annes, England. Her family emigrated to Canada where she spent time living on both coasts. She resides in Los Angeles where a passionate outcry to friends, “If only I could read for a living” was answered. Entwistle narrates audio books for Random House. Her narration work has garnered several awards including a place on the NY Times Bestseller List.