Great “rattle along” mystery with good fun protagonist in Flavia. Quite a few books in the series.
I see my Summer stretching before me ….
Finished it now and so here are a few reflections on “The sweetness at the bottom of the pie”.
I guess it always takes a while to settle into a series and get to know its characters and Flavia de Luce is no different.
I see that there are seven books in the series so far and so there is plenty to go at if I completely get the bug.
The stories are set in southern England of the 1950’s. They reflect a time and place that is based on a sort of fantasy version of the “English countryside” that Bradley concocted very effectively, but from afar in Canada without ever visiting for many years.
Here is a link to an interview with Bradley where he speaks briefly of his own time in school.
The story moves along quickly and is satisfying both in terms of plot and characters. A mixture of peril and clever detecting.
I am looking forward to meeting the main characters again in the second novel. The policeman in particular seems to have a lot of potential alongside the eccentric bunch of other players.
So moving on now to:-
Cover Graphics for these books about Flavia de Luce
Just have a look at these covers to Harper Lee’s Pulitzer prize winning novel “To Kill a Mocking Bird” published in 1960.
Clearly I am going to argue a similarity between the three covers shown here and the ones in the Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley. The use of the tree and the silhouettes and the birds, combined with the flat colour is pretty conclusive.
Beyond that. Harper Lee’s novel is set around 1933 to 1935 and so is fifteen years or so earlier than the Flavia de Luce novels. However this descrepency is not so important if we consider the designer of the cover as making a broad “just before and just after the second world war” reference from a stylistic point of view.
So the content is undeniable and the overall aesthetic is pitched in a twenty year window between 1935 and 1955 or so. This “style” of book cover was of course determined largely during that time by the practicalities of the printing process. Full colour litho did not come in for a while after 1960 and can only be seen in the covers of the later editions of “To Kill a Mocking Bird” where photograpy is used.
So that does add an extra poignancy to the covers of Alan Bradley’s books. The artist has clearly gone for the simplicity of technique as a deliberate choice.
Two covers for the fiftieth anniversary edition harking back to the original book covers.
First edition cover
Another more generic reference for these book covers is the railway posters
of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Again done in simple, beautifully drawn and painted flat colour illustrations. slightly more colourful and less moody than the “To Kill a Mocking Bird” covers, but completely evocative of the era either side the 2nd World War.