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SheriC

Portable Magic

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

The Science Of Discworld
Terry Pratchett, Jack Cohen, Ian Stewart
Progress: 22/414 pages
Hogfather
Terry Pratchett
Progress: 85/356 pages
The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports
Jeff Passan
Progress: 104/368 pages
Flowers for Algernon
Daniel Keyes
Progress: 289/311 pages

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie ★★★★☆

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley

I’ve had several false starts in trying to write a review of this book, because every time I try to explain why I enjoyed it, I drew a blank. In trying to dissect it, I can only enumerate its flaws. As lame as it sounds, all I can really say is that this story is adorable and I loved that it was set in the 1950’s, an era that isn’t found much in contemporary fiction. There is a cast of characters who are just one step away from the stereotypes I see on BBC America sitcom reruns. But it works. The writing is rich and evocative, but it’s written from the 1st person POV of an 11 year old girl, which gives her a ridiculously precocious maturity more suited to an aging, cosmopolitan divorcee than a midcentury preadolescent who has spent her entire sheltered life confined to a country estate and adjoining village. But it works. The narrative is stuffed with similes, seemingly at a rate of one per paragraph, and some of them so awkward that I had to pause to ponder them and how an 11 year old would have the life experience to make them. But it works. The MC is just a lot of fun. She’s a borderline sociopath who gleefully poisons her sisters and is able to lie and manipulate with ease. But she’s also a lonely little girl who yearns for her emotionally absent father and dead mother. My biggest complaint, though, is the mechanism of murder at the heart of this mystery story, where

the diabetic murderer uses his insulin syringe to inject a deadly chemical into the victims’ brainstem. Implausible, because even in the 1950’s, insulin syringes did not hold 10cc of fluid, nor did they have a needle long enough and sturdy enough to navigate past the bone structures at the top of the neck to reach the brain stem.

(show spoiler)

 

This was the audiobook version, borrowed from my public library. I suspect that Jayne Entwistle’s fantastic performance contributed much to my liking this book in spite of its flaws.