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As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Hardcover)
Flavia’s Aunt and Father have sent her away to Canada for “finishing”, the very same school her mother attended, Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy. Flavia views this removal from Bradshaw as banishment plain and simple. This places Flavia in an odd sort of isolation - she is cut off from her family, friends, lab and Gladys, forcing Flavia to stand on her own to solve the riddles presented to her. Such as.... What really happened to the girls who’ve disappeared from the academy? Are the grounds really haunted by these same missing girls? And does the mummified body which flew out of Flavia’s chimney (on her first night, what a welcome!) belong to one of them? Flavia must solve these puzzles while combating treacherous and sneaky emotions which seem to creep up on her in the most unexpected ways...
Review: Query, which group do you think is more obsessive? Bibliophiles or gardeners? A case can be made for each and it seems the only correct answer is a gardening bibliophile! The meticulousness (or obsessiveness as the non-initiated may call it) of a gardening bibliophile (I think) explains how Shakespearean themed gardens came into existence. It is exactly like it sounds, gardens who are planted with all the flora mentioned in the Bard’s plays. Which is no small undertaking, as there are 181 plants mentioned in his works (I got the list from the Golden Gate Park website). Most of these themed gardens stick with perennials, herbs and trees - basically veering away from annuals, fruits and vegetable vegetation. Since many of these species require annual planting which can be time and labor intensive, and like libraries, public gardens are generally pretty far down on the public funds lists. Now if you take these gardens one step further (and like research a whole lot) you can try you can try and figure out witch breed of plant on the list would likely have been found in Elizabethan England. All done in the hopes of creating the most authentic Shakespearian garden around... If you really lucky (or devious) you could perhaps get a cutting from one of the plants from Anne Hathaway’s garden!
There really isn’t an end to this line of thinking, you could create all kinds of gardens based on the offhanded comments made in literature with varying results. You could have a tongue-in-cheek version, aka a one plant wonder by potting the single plant mention by an author. See how interesting an Alice in Wonderland garden could look (you would have to decide however if you’d just stick with flowers mentioned in the text or include the movie flora and see if you could add any of fauna as well - this has many possibilities). Or you could go in the other direction as Agatha Christie’s garden at Greenway which features a mystery which visitor’s must try and solve while strolling through it. Now we must think of what a garden dedicated to the plants mentioned in Flavia’s books would look like...I think we might have the answer already. Alnwick’s Poison Garden which houses some of the world’s most toxic plants, including many which must be kept under lock and key they are so toxic. I think Flavia would be absolutely over the moon to visit a garden such as this!
Now you are probably wondering what on earth this has to do with Flavia and her adventures in this installment! Well she made a reference on page 345, “...one of those little jungles of artists’ colors whose owner tries to include every flower mentioned in Shakespeare.”. Which made me wonder if these themed gardens really were a thing, which apparently they are (and now I feel slightly compelled to make a road trip out of this and visit all of these Shakespearian themed gardens in the continental US, but I suppose I should only plan one trip at a time...)! This quote demonstrates exactly what I enjoy about this book, most of the references she makes all correlate to real people, places or things; things like themed gardens, the poisoner William Palmer, hangman George Smith or the (chemical) Marsh test. Even closer to my heart was literary references to Dickens, Shakespeare (obviously) and Christie (which tickled me to no end!). Alan Bradley is a master of dropping references and hints into the text without jarring the reader out of the narrative, while adding additional layers to his narrative.
I would recommend this book to any Flavia fan out there, I think this was a good addition to the series. I enjoyed watching Flavia’s observations on Canada, her new school and teachers they were priceless! Now this is completely conjecture on my part but... While Dead In Their Vaulted Arches brought one major story arc to a close - I think this book is all most a stand alone. This is the book which allows Flavia to process her feelings on Harriet and her life at Bradshaw which as we know wasn’t exactly what it seemed to be. The next book I think will place Flavia at the beginning of a new story arc which Bradley will slowly spool out over several books (I hope). But like I said I have no real proof of this theory beyond what I perceive as small hint in the text and my experience as a reader.
But word to the wise, if you haven’t read any Flavia books before I would highly suggest you start with Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie - the first book in the series - as I think you’d get more out of the books by reading them in order (unlike me who didn’t). Just a helpful hint to anyone wishing to read something just a little bit different and absolutely wonderfully precocious.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Flavia de Luce part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (The New York Times Book Review) takes her remarkable sleuthing prowess to the unexpectedly unsavory world of Canadian boarding schools in the captivating new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley.
Banished is how twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce laments her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote's Female Academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia's first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. Flavia being Flavia, a budding chemist and sleuth, that gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), and assessing the school's stern headmistress and faculty (one of whom is an acquitted murderess), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim's identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. Rumors swirl that Miss Bodycote's is haunted, and that several girls have disappeared without a trace. When it comes to solving multiple mysteries, Flavia is up to the task but her true destiny has yet to be revealed.
Praise for As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
Flavia de Luce is] perhaps contemporary crime fiction's most original character to say she is Pippi Longstocking with a Ph.D. in chemistry (speciality: poisons) barely begins to describe her. Maclean s
Another treat for readers of all ages . . . As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust] maintains the high standards Bradley set from the start. Booklist
Exceptional . . . The] intriguing setup only gets better, and Bradley makes Miss Bodycote's a suitably Gothic setting for Flavia's sleuthing. Through it all, her morbid narrative voice continues to charm. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Even after all these years, Flavia de Luce is still the world's greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth. The Seattle Times
Plot twists come faster than Canadian snowfall. . . . Bradley's sense of observation is as keen as gung-ho scientist Flavia's. . . . The results so far are seven sparkling Flavia de Luce mysteries. Library Journal
A rattling good girls own adventure yarn with an extensive cast of characters and suspects . . . When all is revealed, the links, misunderstandings and secrecy have a satisfying click. Winnipeg Free Press
A delightful installment in the series LibraryReads
Acclaim for Alan Bradley's beloved Flavia de Luce novels, winners of the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award, Barry Award, Agatha Award, Macavity Award, Dilys Winn Award, and Arthur Ellis Award
If ever there were a sleuth who's bold, brilliant, and, yes, adorable, it's Flavia de Luce. USA Today
This idiosyncratic young heroine continues to charm. The Wall Street Journal
Delightful . . . a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes. The Boston Globe
About the Author
Alan Bradley is the internationally bestselling author of many short stories, children s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. His first Flavia de Luce novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, received the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award, the Dilys Winn Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Agatha Award, the Macavity Award, and the Barry Award, and was nominated for the Anthony Award. His other Flavia de Luce novels are 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, and As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust."