Thursday, January 23, 2014

My somewhat unorthodox girl crush


I originally started this post as a poem singing the praises of Flavia de Luce, but that got weird and somewhat creepy very quickly as Flavia is an 11-year-old girl.  So instead, I shall list the reasons why this mystery series is worth your time.  And I will double-down on my previous recommendations to read this book via audio if you have the opportunity to do so because it is brilliantly narrated.  So, onto the list!

1.  Flavia as budding chemist.  She is a chemistry genius and has her own laboratory!  For any woman who considered going into STEM fields of study but did not, or anyone who wants to raise a daughter who feels confident in her ability to do traditionally male roles, Flavia is a role model.  She is smart, she knows she's smart, and she'll tell anyone who doubts her just how smart she is.

2.  Family ties.  There is so much that rings true in this series about what it's like to grow up in a family of very different personalities.  In previous books, I thought that Flavia's sisters were really cruel to her and that the relationship between the sisters was really sad and bizarre.  In the latest two books, the relationship between the sisters has softened, though it still has its ups and downs.  And as I recall my pre-teen and early teen years with my brother and sister, I think it's pretty true to form.  Siblings can be both horribly cruel and wonderfully kind, and that comes through so well in these books.

3.  Village life.  I feel like Flavia de Luce and Miss Marple would be kindred spirits.  People underestimate Miss Marple's abilities because she's this kind and inconspicuous old lady, and people do the same to Flavia because she's an 11-year-old who gets around on an old bike named Gladys.  However, Miss Marple solves mysteries all over the place whereas Flavia solves mysteries only in her immediate vicinity.  Therefore, we really get to know the other characters in this book very well.  For example, we spend hardly any time with the Inspector's wife, Antigone, but we know that Flavia loves her and looks up to her as a an ideal mother.  And Flavia's stand-in for her father is Dogger, to whom she is intensely loyal.  Their moments together are so sweet and touching.

4.  The humor.  These books center on a murder, but they're also about a very precocious and self-righteous 11-year-old who doesn't always understand the subtleties of the world around her.  It's good stuff.

Hopefully this has helped convince you to at least add Flavia to your wishlist at the local library or bookseller!  She's a treat, and I don't think you'll regret it!

28 comments:

  1. Normally I don't like books written for adults but with young narrators. I am happy this is not the case with these books. :)

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    1. I don't know many others that are for adults with young narrators - do any jump to your mind?

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  2. This is brilliant! Yes yes yes!! I love Flavia! And I'm not sure it's wrong to have a girl-crush on Flavia. In reality, she would be in her 70s or 80s by now, right? :P

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    1. Such a good point! Not sure if it is less weird to have a girl crush on an 80 year old woman ;-)

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  3. I also adore Flavia. A new series featuring her today, in her 70s, would be excellent ;)

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    1. Oh, I completely agree. So many ways that Alan Bradley could take her life!

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  4. Well, you've convinced me to try them! And just in time. I've been looking for a new mystery series. Thanks for the tip.

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    1. I hope you enjoy them - I think they're delightful, though they are probably less so for the mystery solving than for the characters.

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  5. YESSSSSS. I love Flavia. Love this series. I'm actually making myself NOT read A Red Herring Without Mustard right now because I want to save the series longer. And I might have to collect that series of covers, too. Just sayin'.

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    1. Aren't they great?! I have never seen them at the store, either, but perhaps they are the paperback versions. I have only seen the hardcovers.

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  6. They're so enjoyable - I thought I might find her irritating, but absolutely not - I think her naivete about so many things really saves her from that.

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    1. You're very right. Sometimes I DO find her irritating but what 11-year-old isn't, sometimes?

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  7. I read the first book in this series and I enjoyed it, but I didn't continue. I'm tempted to start again because you reminded me why I love Flavia so much! Also! Those covers! I like them so much more!

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    1. Same! They are maybe the UK ones...?

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  8. My dad and I read the Flavia books together. They are definitely fun, but the humor doesn't overwhelm the mysteries at all. Great post!

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    1. Oh, that's such a fun way to read them!

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  9. Those covers are awesome! I still haven't started this series but I do have the first book and will probably read it during these three months of Triple Dog TBR Dare.

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    1. Do it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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  10. I saw the audiobooks of this series at the library today and wanted to read it but eventually put it back. I need to go back and pick it.

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    1. Yes, they are truly brilliantly done on audio. To the point that I may just read any book that Jayne Entwhistle does the narration for.

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  11. I keep ALMOST starting this series, and then not quite getting there. Maybe I'll have to check them out on audio, since you like the narration so well.

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    1. I am on the waiting list for the 6th book at the library and it seems they do not have it in audio version yet. I am torn over whether to read it in e-book format or to wait however long is necessary to get it on audio...

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  12. Yes, Flavia is wonderful! I loved all of the first five books and can't wait to read The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, especially after the way the fifth book ended.

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    1. SAME! I hear it sort of ends this story arc, but that there are more books planned in the series, so I am interested as to what will happen...

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  13. I love Flavia! I just reviewed Speaking on my blog. It's such a fantastic series!

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  14. I've read several of the Flavia books but looks like I need to catch up on the latest ones. You are so right that Flavia helps fight stereotyping of girls' aptitudes & abilities. Besides the books are fun. Glad to know about the quality of the audio books. I'll keep that in mind for my next road trip.

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  15. I've got a crush on this whole family, and every quirky person in the village. I have collected these all and am up to date except for the current one. Over the past three novels I've fallen hard for the audio versions. I really like the narrator. So when the books come out I buy them and then order the audio from the library. I'm in the queue right now and impatiently waiting for the next one.

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  16. Forgot to mention that I'm thrilled you like these too.

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