A Writers Writer – Alan Bradley -The Flavia De Luce Series

“I’d been spending so much time sitting halfway down the stairs that I was beginning to feel like Christopher Robin”   Flavia from I’m Half Sick of Shadows

Flavia De Luce  lives in a dilapidated old mansion in the English countryside with two older sisters who are rarely nice to her and with a distant father who spends his days immersed in his stamp collection. Flavia, an eleven year old brilliant, motherless, chemistry-obsessed, poison-loving young girl is at the heart of these books and in each one,  she solves a murder. She also comes closer to understanding the larger mystery in her life: who her mother, Harriet, really was.

Bradley’s first Flavia book was published when he was 70, and it was the first novel he ever wrote and was my introduction to one of my new favorite authors and a cast of characters I throughly enjoy and you will too. Bradley’s story is a writers fantasy come true.  In early 2007, Bradley entered the Dagger contest by submitting fifteen pages about a girl now named Flavia de Luce. These pages, which took only a few days to write and several weeks of polishing, became the basis of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Bradley set the book in England despite having never been thee. In June 2007, two judges from the contest contacted Bradley’s agent in Canada to express interest in publishing the proposed book; they also inadvertently informed him that Bradley was the winner of the competition. A bidding war ensued, and on June 27, 2007, Bradley sold Orion the rights for three books in Britain. After the award ceremony, Bradly spent seven months turning the submitted fifteen pages into a full-length novel. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was published in the UK in January 2009 and in Canada in February 2009.

I have finished (out of order) my second book of the series and find Bradley’s writing, his descriptions, and the irresistible, 1st person voice of this young girl, a remarkable addition to my reading life. This is not a precocious child that is a pain in the…….but a interesting child that is perceptive beyond her years. No giving away of the mysteries, but in cozy-fashion the stories do not dwell on the bloody crime, but on the cast of possible suspects. I highly recommend this setting filled with good humor and exceptionally  well written mysteries. Check with Amazon who was running a great price the last time I looked on both  books mentioned here. ENJOY!

Order of the Series

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
A Red Herring Without Mustard  
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
Speaking From Among the Bones
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d
A Grave’s a Fine and Private Place


About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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1 Response to A Writers Writer – Alan Bradley -The Flavia De Luce Series

  1. I am reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (given to me by a friend who said someone gave it to her and recommended she read it but she didn’t know why and passed it to me). It is a delightful read and reminds me of world of Nancy Drew when I was a teenager. What a joy to read that the author was 70 when he started the series. Flavia is a precocious protagonist who I wish had been around when I was young girl in the 50s.

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