Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.
Recently, I’ve seen people “confess” to their love of the Flavia de Luce books (fine, the Buckshaw Chronicles). Like reading and liking these books is something to feel guilty about, they are some kind of guilty pleasure.
I’m not about that life, guys. Are Alan Bradley’s delightful mysteries set in the 1950s English countryside gritty or dark or violent? Nope. But that’s kind of their charm. They are much more in the vein of Agatha Christie and I for one appreciate their lighter fare. I’ve spent several years loving Flavia and her penchant for solving crimes, chemistry and finding new ways to torture her older sisters.
So I’m not here to rag on these books. I think they are the kind of books that we probably need these days.
But I think Book #9, The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place, might be the end of the line.
After the shocking end of Book #8 (still not over it), the ever faithful Dogger takes Flavia and her older sisters on a boating trip before they are all off to new lives. As they are making their way up the river, Dogger is just telling Flavia about the wonderful case of the vicar who poisoned three of his parishioners and how they dropped dead right in the front pew, when Flavia literally drags a body from the water. One minute she’s dragging her arm in the water, the next a body is hanging from her hand by its teeth.
Naturally Flavia is delighted and Dogger and the de Luces decamp to the village of the famous poisoning incident. While there, Flavia endeavors to find out not only what happened to the body she dragged from the water but how did the vicar actually go about poisoning his parishioners?
In true Buckshaw Chronicles fashion, Flavia uncovers more than she bargained for and learns ever more about human nature.
If you’re familiar with these books, then you know exactly what you’re getting with The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place. It follows in the footsteps of it’s predecessors. The fact that this one is removed from Buckshaw and Bishop’s Lacey does mean that we lose access to some of the characters that didn’t come along on the trip. But Bradley has given us a whole cast of new characters that ably fill the void. However, if this IS the last one, the series is going out with a whimper, not a bang. And I can’t decide how I feel about that.
Now that Flavia has made a decision about her future, putting all her skills and training to use in this new pursuit, now that all of the financial issues around Buckshaw have been sorted out, I kind of want to see what direction these books could go in. They really do feel like an homage to Agatha Christie, maybe mixed with The Bletchley Circle and Harriet the Spy. Having freed himself from some of the constraints of the story, I want to see what Bradley comes up with for Flavia.
If you can come to this maybe-final book accepting it for what it is, then I suspect you will enjoy the ride. Flavia is in fine form, finally understanding how humans relate to one another, something that has always eluded her.
Finally, Flavia is all grown up.
8 thoughts on “Taking ‘Buckshaw’ out of the Buckshaw Chronicles”
Oh jeez, I loves these books! I have this one on my shelf right now, and for some reason haven’t read it yet. I can’t remember what happened at the end of the last one, the xmas one right?
Yup – it has to do with her dad…
oohhhh yes ok now I remember
I’ve felt my interest in this series waning the last few books. I think Bradley is slowly removing the characteristics that made me like the series.
I felt that way in the middle but became invested again in the two before this one. I didn’t love this one but I wasn’t actively aggravated which feels like a win?
I’m so used to the Canadian covers that that last one seems like a totally different series to me, but I agree: it’s lovely. This isn’t a series I’ve been following, but I agree that slotting them under some “guilty pleasure” banner isn’t fair. One of these days, I look forward to sharing Flavia’s company for a spell…
Wait – who calls them the Buckshaw Chronicles? That’s crazy talk. I am going to be irked if this is how Flavia goes out. I liked this, but didn’t love it. I loved Flavia’s realization that she’s maturing – while still acting perfectly like Flavia. And Clair!! Don’t you feel like we deserve more of that story? I feel like I need a future with a bow on it for Dogger.
YES. I want more Claire and Dogger and I want to see them all living at Buckshaw and solving murders like Tommy and Tuppence!
I think officially they are the Buckshaw Chronicles but anyone who actually reads them obv refers to them as the Flavia de Luce books.