Sunday, October 31, 2010

Setting, Characters... Who Needs Plot? :)

Funny-ish story - on Friday, I got out my book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, to read as usual on the train on the way to work, and I flipped through it looking for my place... and after a while I realized that, I had in fact, finished it the night before! oops :) This makes this the first book I have finished during the week, with the help of the daily commute and some nightly reading.  I had a lot of help though, having read the first half of the book when I got it out from the library over Succos... but anyway, to begin at the beginning, this is actually a recommendation of Jen T's.  I'm not quite sure why she though I would enjoy it - I think mainly because it's English - but she liked it so she handed it on.  Sarah Sp.  pointed it out to me too, so it certainly came with solid backing :)

Now against recommendations, we have a mystery written by a man, about a twelve year old girl.  So we're talking a lot of tension and no romance.  So why? Well if you recall, if there's one male writer archetype I actually enjoy, it's British comedian authors.  And while this book isn't strictly comedy, it certainly maintains a lightness throughout characteristic of both male Brits and twelve-year-old female prodigies.  I'm using a lot of big words here, but what I'm saying is, I liked the book.  There were two things I found appealing.  The first was the more obvious one - Flavia, the main character, is just the type of spunky, independent, and unique child to make for a good narrator.  I like her because she's smart and doesn't let anything bother her.  She just barrels right along and solves the case.  If there's an issue, it's that there's some slight inconsistency about her ultimate decency.  I mean she's not supposed to be a bad person, for sure not.  But at times, she seems like she really needs to grow up, and at times, she seems like a misunderstood and slightly naive child.  Of the two, I think I prefer the second, even if it makes her more vulnerable.  Little terrors don't appeal to me.

The real reason I liked the book was the setting.  The book is a mystery and has a pretty typical mystery setting - 1950's English countryside.  And this is where you go, oh.  That's why Rochel liked it :) Because it may not be Regency, but it's amazing how much I like reading about England, and mostly about the English upper class.  Maybe it's just that I've read so much about them, I found their attitudes especially sympathetic.  Maybe it just harks back enough to my favorite time period... Oh, I don't know why I'm rhapsodizing, England in the 50's, (or at least according to this book) still had its old dignity and ordered way of life that makes me love Regency so much (other than the for the romance of course :)) Maybe I should read more of these... but the truth is, this book is more of history than a mystery - I mean we find out whodunit, but a lot of the book is concerned with the minutiae of Flavia's life, and of course of her relationship with her family.  And until almost the end, the tension of a murderer on the loose is pretty much kept on the d.l., which is fine with me :)

I guess if I have a complaint, I didn't really like the ending so much, at least how it was handled.  I mean, the villain was fine and everything, but it wasn't such a surprise.  It was kind of blown up a little too much - forced drama.  But whatever, that's not why I was reading the book anyway... and everything I cared about was present and accounted for :)

Verdict: 3.75/5
Food: thoroughly delightful, if not my usual... for some reason, tacos just came into my head (was thinking of going to Carlos and Gabby's today) so let's just go with tacos... I mean, corn isn't bread, and some of the flavors are a little hot, but altogether a pretty good mix (I talk as if I've ever eaten a taco, when the closest I've come is an Ortega shell with meatballs, but whatever :))

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