Oh, Flavia! It’s been a few years since I first discovered this series by Alan Bradley. I read the first three or four then life and a myriad of other books encroached. Recently I was out in the world with only my kindle (I was traveling light) and had finished the current read and needed to trawl my library for something and realized I had the entire series. Saved!
This novel, set in the small village of Bishop’s Lacey in 1950, introduces Flavia de Luce, a 10-year-old living in the family’s rambling home called Buckshaw with the Colonel, her widowed father and two older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne. The sisters upbringing is unconventional, to say the least. Feely (Ophelia) is a musical prodigy and at 16 is more than a little self-absorbed. Daffy (Daphne) spends her days and nights reading voraciously and is a few of years older than Flavia, who is obsessed with chemistry. She has taken over the wing of the house that her great uncle Tar had turned into a chemistry lab and keeps herself occupied doing experiments and creating more than a little mischief for her older sisters. The household is rounded out with the gardener Dogger, a soldier who served with the Colonel and survived a POW camp in the war and is dealing with PTSD, and Mrs. Mullet, who comes to cook and clean.One morning Flavia finds a dying man in the cucumber patch and her life, and that of her family with never be the same.
These are smart and thoroughly enjoyable little mysteries, with an offbeat cast and setting. I’m planning on plowing through the series here in the coming weeks, so we will see if the charm wears off. Cheers!