Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - a great read

When I pick up a book off the shelf at the library, I read the flap on the inside cover or the description on the back of the book. (Usually I just go for the inside cover since the librarians insist on covering part of the text on the back of the book with obnoxious stickers. It's maddening.) I read what the book is about. If it sounds intriguing, I cross my fingers and proceed to a self-service machine, where I punch in my library card number and check out the book. (My children think it's ridiculous that I have my fourteen digit library card number memorized. Obviously, I'm quite proud of the fact that I do. Enough so that I've worked it into this writing. Any serious library patron has his library card number memorized. Besides, if you have your number memorized, you no longer need your card.) As I make my way home, I think about the delights of sitting down to a new book. Getting lost in a new story. In spite of keeping my fingers crossed the whole way home though, too often I start a book, especially newer fiction, only to put it down so many pages into it after being confronted with really foul language or vivid descriptions of intimacy.

Excuse me?

Who really wants that?

As my friend Laurie says, "Have you ever heard anyone say 'I liked that book, but it didn't have the "f' word in it enough.'"

Last summer I gave my daughter a book for her birthday. I picked it up at Costso and read the back cover. (No librarians at Costco.) It looked like a good read. I bought it, took it home and wrapped it up. As soon as she tore off the paper, she read aloud off the front cover, "A frothy brew of sex and intrigue."  "Oooh, thanks, Mom! Looks good!" She hasn't let me forget it.

There are many books that would be just as good - I argue even better - if the authors just left the offensive content out.

Recently, I read a delightful, well-written, fairly new (2009)  murder mystery called The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

Not one offensive thing in it.

Well, unless you find murder offensive. I happen to enjoy a good fictional murder.

The main character is a very precocious eleven-year-old girl named Flavia De Luce. She lives with her slightly eccentric family in a British manor house that has seen better days. The year is 1950. Flavia is a chemistry prodigy. Her specialty is poisons. After she discovers a dead body in the garden, Flavia is one step ahead of the inspector in charge of the case the whole way through the investigation.

No crude language. No explicit sex scenes. No sex scenes at all, in fact.

And the best part: It's going to be a five book series. I just finished book two: The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Laughed out loud as I read. These books are fabulous. I hope book three will be out soon.

The author, Alan Bradley, is a Canadian man in his seventies. He does an amazing job with Flavia's character. I'm curious to know what his chemistry background is.

So, if you don't mind reading a book without bad language, if you aren't looking for a frothy brew of sex and intrigue, you might try these books. And you just might find the sweetness at the bottom of the pie.


  1. I enjoyed reading "the Sweetness..." last fall. What true library patron doesn't have their library card memorized? I've had mine memorized for years. I've got Marion's, Mariah's, and Mattea's pretty down pat, as well. It's just handy. What's not handy is the fact that they have cards, and that I get to keep track of some of their stuff, since I'm usually the one with the wheels going to the library.

  2. If I remember correctly (and I do, as I read it recently) it was described as a "frothy brew, full of sex, mystery and small town secrets." And I quite liked it. Brock and I now refer to all books as "frothy brews."

  3. I might just have to read this book!

  4. I just bought this on my lookbook (my imitation Kindle). I'll let you know what I think when I finish (after I finish Pride and Prejudice). I better not be disappointed or I'm coming after you!