The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

A few weeks ago I read   David  Mitchell’s Black Swan Green  where the story is told as seen through the eyes of a thirteen year old boy. Paired with this I have now  read  The Sweetness at the Bottom of The Pie by Alan Bradley, this time narrated  by an eleven year old girl.sweetnessatthe bottomofthe pie

We’re taken back to 1950 where eleven year old Flavia de Luce lives in a grand old house in the English countryside

I don’t remember the book mentioning where Flavia was receiving her education but she had this wonderful, ancient, private laboratory at the top of the house, complete with bunsen burners,  test tubes, beakers, flasks and   glass retorts,  as well as the contents of a vast array of  stoppered bottles and a library of old-fashioned chemistry books. It had been set up by an earlier member of the family, and, left so much to her own devices Flavia became an intelligent self-taught chemist.

When a body is found in the cucumber patch Flavia’s analytical mind springs into action and  she is off on the chase to try and find out what has really happened.  How Did He Die and Who Did It ‘

So where did the author get his detailed knowledge of chemistry.  One has to assume that everything he has written is accurate if he wanted to maintain his credibility. And thankfully it is given to us in small doses so that it doesn’t distract from the story line. Chasing the author on Google shows him to have a quiet but  interesting background.

Flavia scampers all over the place on her bike Gladys. It made me realize I miss  seeing that in my town.  Most of the few children I see on bikes are of primary school age.   These days I rarely see a schoolgirl on a bike and I no longer  see groups of boys on the corner of the streets, ogling the girls as they go by ! Bike culture has changed.  At weekends you will see family groups of Mum, Dad and the littlies going for a sedate ride wearing the required helmets. Then there are the serious lycra-clad exercisers, heads down bottoms up eating up the roads.  Bikes are now an extra to a life, not an essential part.

From the Family Album – Young Ladies and their Bikes 1950

Bendigo Teachers College Residence 1950

While growing up I used to ride everywhere even out into the country side .One favourite destination was a fire-watching tower in a pine plantation. These towers were manned by people in the summer so that any column of smoke showing a potential bushfire could have its bearing taken to be triangulated with sightings from other fire towers.  Many of them are still in use.

Within town boundaries there was the swimming dam, sometimes used in preference to the small concrete town pool.  The dam was great, both socially and for the lovely dirty brown water. Well worth the ride to the outskirts of town. But no matter where you went there was that final steep hill to  home which defeated me every time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the wanderings it induced in my own mind.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

  1. I love this photo of the women with their bicycles!

    I laughed when I read the line “But no matter where you went there was that final steep hill to home which defeated me every time”! I love riding my bicycle (my dog goes in the basket- she loves it) but I always have that hill at the end….

    Great post 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed my ramblings. No matter what I read my mind always seems to wander off on sidetracks. I presume your dog is a small one. My mind conjures up the sight of a Labrador or a Great Dane perched in your basket with Letizia peering around the side !

      • That would be quite a sight! 😀

        She’s a Border Terrier so I can easily look over her. She sits happily in the wicker basket, wind in her fur, watching the world go by.

        When she was younger, I used to hold on to her collar with one thumb as she was tempted to leap out at the sight of a squirrel, but now, at the age of 13, she just enjoys the ride!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s