As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust: A Flavia de Luce Novel, by Alan Bradley, (Delacorte Press), 416 Pages, released January 6, 2015
Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce is the sort of character one can’t help but grow increasingly fond of over time. Simultaneously melodramatic and deeply rational, Flavia ricochets between hyperbole and precise experiments in organic chemistry. Again, she’s set a mystery to solve—this time at Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada—and sorts things out nicely.
The real pleasure of these books, though, is not the plot so much as Flavia’s personality and way of looking at the world.
Flavia on being sent to school in Canada: “‘Banished!’ There is no sadder word in the English language. The very sound of it—like echoing iron gates crashing closed behind you; like steel bolts being shot shut—makes your hair stand on end, doesn’t it? ‘Banished!'”
Flavia describing an adult she’s fallen afoul of: “Her voice was as sharp as elderly cheese.”
Flavia on the Anglican mindset: “She was the only person in the hall looking at us. Everyone else was looking studiously away, as Anglicans invariably do when faced with group embarrassment.”
Flavia on being less than truthful: “Was it wrong to be so deceitful? Well, yes, it probably was. But if God hadn’t wanted me to be the way I am, He would have arranged to have me born a haddock instead of Flavia de Luce—wouldn’t He?”
This latest novel in the series, like the others, is one to pick up when in need of some fast-paced, larger (and funnier) than life action. Flavia is a comfort for the disheartened spirit and a joy for those already content.