Up until last week, I had failed miserably in my quest and I was even beginning to dread starting a new novel for fear that it too, would be a disappointment. Oh yes, I had come across some fun books (like THIS and THIS), but nothing which totally held me captive and didn't allow me to put it down until I had finished reading it.
But then the sun broke through the fog and illuminated a gem of a book. I can't take credit for finding it (just as I couldn't for Guernsey either - that was a 2010 Booking It participant recommendation), but I take complete and total credit for sharing it with you. A friend - an almost-60-year-old male friend - asked me if I still enjoyed reading mysteries. Do birds fly? He is more generous with his books than I am (see point #4), and loaned me his copy of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley.
Hello! We have a winner! I started reading it on Sunday morning and closed the back cover on Monday morning (life forced me to take breaks - sadly). I really can't do justice to the book by describing the plot, and I don't want to ruin things for you, so I'll try to sum up the main character and you can make up your own mind if you want to read it or not - I think you will.
Flavia de Luce, is an 11-year-old girl chemist-turned-sleuth with a passion for poisons. She comes from a unique family - each member being totally absorbed in their own hobby (philately, music, reading) - and lost her mother in a tragic mountain climbing accident in Nepal. Flavia is the narrator of the story and she acts like she's 11 going on 40 (which is possibly why my friend said that she reminded him of me when I was a kid - I could totally see that). She rides a bicycle named Gladys, which should tell you right there that you don't want to skip this book.
This stamp plays an important role in the story
It's the first novel in a series of five (three written, two more planned) and is the first-ever published book by Mr. Bradley - who celebrated his 70th birthday shortly after publication. There's hope for me yet! Barring a stellar showing by some other book this year (and, for the record, I haven't read The Help yet), I think I found my 2011 Busy Nothings Book Find of the Year. Read it - and let me know what you think! I hate to set your expectations too high as my own were quite low when I started, but then I was so pleasantly surprised. As long as you keep in mind that...
1) It's a mystery (with a hint of Mitford thrown in) and
2) Not all reading tastes are created equal...
I think you'll be just fine. Happy Reading!
I'm linking up to the June Booking It post over at Life as MOM - make sure you check it out for more great reading ideas and recommendations!
Thanks for hosting us, Jessica!