Books and Bagels and Morning Book Break Book Discussion Groups on
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
The Books and Bagels Book Discussion Group members rated the book with a range between a 2.0 and 4.5. Additionally, one member gave the book a 0.5 and another member rated the book at 5.0. The average of the ratings was 3.16.
The Morning Book Break Book Discussion Group rated the book between a 0.5 and 4.0. Additionally, one member gave the book a zero and another member rated the book at 5.0. The average of the ratings was 2.76.
Alan Bradley was born in 1938 and learned to read at an early age. He worked as a radio and television engineer and later helped developed the broadcasting studio at the University of Saskatchewan, where he was director for twenty-five years. He took an early retirement and began writing short stories for literary magazines. In early 2007, he entered the Debut Dagger fiction competition and won. The fifteen submitted pages would become The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. This mystery is the first of ten, so far. Bradley was sixty-nine when The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was published. His story is so encouraging! It is never to later to work to complete our goals! And, it is never too later to write our stories!
The groups discussed what Alan Bradley said in an interview, “I don’t think we trust children enough anymore or leave them alone enough…I recall being that age, and one of the greatest blessings was being left to myself. You find you own interests and amusements and pursue them.” We discussed whether kids today are given enough freedom and whether or not Flavia is given too much freedom.
We discussed the twists in the plot, our favorite scenes, and the most amusing dialogue.
Some members enjoyed the witty dialogue and delightful descriptions. Some members loved the charming setting and interesting characters. Members did think the author wrote wonderful descriptions. Some members thought the writing should be tighter. Some members were reminded of their childhood and more innocent times in history.
The facilitator read the book over the holidays in a cozy chair at home sipping hot coffee. She laughed and smiled while reading the book as time delightfully slipped away. She found the book just what it claimed to be: a wonderful entertainment. The facilitator fondly remembered her childhood with long days spent bicycling, practicing slights of hand, playing in the forest and prairie, collecting nature samples, using a chemistry set and microscope, and plenty of time just to imagine. She thought the book was an exceptionally pleasant read!
Many members thought the book was formulaic and totally unrealistic. With only twenty-five pages left, one member thought it wasn’t even worth the effort to finish. Members couldn’t swallow the premise that an eleven year old girl could have such freedom around town and access to chemical compounds. They thought that Flavia was too young to have such an understanding of chemistry and poisons. They said, “Who would let their eleven year old romp around the village with a potential killer on the loose.” Many members thought the story was boring; they did not want to leave more thought-provoking reads to read this dull story. Many members thought this book should be classified as a Young Adult/Teen read. Most members will not recommend this author to other people and they definitely won’t read another Flavia de Luce mystery.
Often when the ratings are so low the facilitator will justify the selection and tell the members why the book was selected.
In this case, members have requested entertaining, easy reads over the holidays.
Additionally, this book has received many awards such as; the Barry Award for Best First Novel (2010), the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel (2010), an Anthony Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2010), the Dilys Award (2010), the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel (2010), the Agatha Award for Best First Novel (2009), the CWA Debut Dagger (2007), and a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction & Mystery/Thriller (2009)
For books and audiobooks in our collection by Alan Bradley, please click here.
Visit Alan Bradley’s website.
Penguin House Canada introduces Alan Bradley and his Flavia novels:
Listen to these interviews with Alan Bradley about how he created the delightful, spunky Flavia de Luce novels. He talks about how he came up with the creative titles and how his Flavia is a gift from the universe.