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.

Mainly Me, Me, Me and Liebster

Such a surprise to hear from CricketMuse that she had nominated me for a Liebster Award. How very kind of her. Thank you Cricketmuse

My nominator had asked me the following questions –

1. It’s 2pm on a sunny Saturday–where are you and what are you doing?

Heading for a coffee shop with a book under my arm., somewhere with big windows and a pleasant view.

Looking out through the glass

2. Given the choice of reading a classic novel or the latest bestseller which do you prefer?

The bestseller – so much to read and so little time to read it.

3. Could you work in a job without a window?

Only if I had no alternative.

4. How do you celebrate the first day of vacation?

Doing as little as possible.

5. Who is your favorite poet?

Shakespeare – his Sonnets

6. Do you think technology is affecting they way we converse with one another?

Yes – I enjoy the messaging but I do miss the verbal contacts.

7. Here’s the magic wand–what’s your wish?

To disable the vocal cords of a certain politician for a few days ! But that’s a rather negative answer when I should be saying feeding the starving in all countries or giving other countries a  health systen based on the one in Australia where you are given the best of medical care even when you’re poor.

8. What country would you visit if you won the sweepstakes?

Britain

9. Which pet do you prefer–traditional (dog) or exotic (hedgehog)?

traditional – cat

10. How many blogs do you read during the week?

About a dozen.. Read too many and you don’t do them justice. I like to have time to think about the contents.

11. What do you think of blog awards?

It’s a bit like a chain letter, but in a nice way.. But it makes you a link in the chain. Hello fellow Liebsters.

And she asked for 11 Random Facts about myself.

My first cat was called Henry after Henry V.

I have blue eyes.

I love carbohydrates unfortunately

I usually prefer the winter – it energises me.

A regret -I never learnt to ice-skate

A guilty pleasure would be to learn how to be a hacker, in a nice sort of way, just so I could have a little peek !

Favourite musical – Les Miserables – on stage of course, not on film.

I think that’s enough. You know what they say about giving away too much about yourself on the internet and I think I have already said far too much. !

And now I have to devise 11 questions which hopefully will be answered by those I nominate for A Liebster Award but which can be ignored if they are too personal.

1 Favorite book ?

2. Favorite Movie ?

3. Favorite TV Show ?

4. Do you go to concerts, either classical or other ?

5. What things get under your skin and stir you up ?

6. What time do you go to bed / get out of bed ?

9. Do you watch TV in bed ?

10. Do you like wearing hats – what sort

11.When you sing in the shower, what song do you sing ?

Now I can really see you, wearing your favorite hat, with a book and a DVD under your arm and some theatre tickets sticking out of your pocket. and on your way to your favorite protest rally ! Looks like you’re having fun.

Trumpet Roll – here is my list of nominees for a Liebster Award , in no particular order –

1. Serendipities of Life

2. Booker Talk

3.The Matilda Project

4.Cookies and Crafts

5. A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff

7.Like the World

8. anspired

.9. EllisNelson

I don’t know about other people but I keep my reading list fairly short – a few regulars then a little time left to dabble with a random reading.f If someone has taken the time to write a blog entry then I need time to read and think about the entry, not just skim and discard.

The rules of the Liebster Award are as follows :

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen. (No tag backs)

4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog

Casual Vacancy by J.K.Rowling

Rowling among the tree tops

Usually I don’t hesitate to discard a book if I’m not enjoying it so why haven’t I discarded Casual Vacancy by J.K.Rowling.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t trust my own judgement.  After all, think of  the number of books she has sold and think of my lack of training in writing and the appreciation of  literature .

So why has it got to the point where I still HAVE to read fifty pages a day if I’m to get it back to the library in time, apart from the fact that I find her writing very dull. What instinct prevented me from buying it for myself in the first place? There’s nothing wrong with the storyline.  There is a vacancy.  That’s a common happening in the real world and leaves plenty of room for the imagination to work.  But it’s an adult vacancy.  So why all this pre-occupation with the children of the village? To me they are mostly irrelevant to the filling of the vacancy which I thought was the purpose of the story.

I’m half way through the book and I am still having trouble distinguishing the characters.  They are still shapeless, faceless people.  Probably the children are the easiest.   Krystal, Fats and Andrew, well I think I’d know them if I met them in the street !  But so far the adults blend together.  I would probably have to start again to try and sort them out but I shouldn’t have to do that to enjoy the book. Perhaps I’ll read this book again some time in the future and thoroughly enjoy it, but I have doubts about that.

At least I can pick nice places to sit and read it, this time in the tree-tops with their roots down on the river bank.

Looking out through the glass