Saturday 31 January 2015

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

Finished January 30
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley, read by Jayne Entwistle

This episode in the Flavia de Luce series takes Flavia away from Buckshaw, her home in England to a boarding school in Canada. Flavia, now twelve, is sent by her father and aunt Felicity to Miss Bodycote's Female Academy in Toronto, the same school where her mother Harriet once went. She is escorted from her home by the chair of the board of the school, Ryerson Rainsmith, and his wife, Dorsey, not a couple that Flavia warms to at all, across the Atlantic to Halifax and on to Toronto by train.
On her first night at the school, another boarder attacks her in her bed, and then a corpse falls out of her chimney. The body is wrapped tightly and charred, but in the aftermath of this Flavia takes the time to observe as much as she can, and palms an object that fell out with the corpse. The headmistress, Miss Fawlthorne seems to change her character at a whim, sometimes becoming quite approachable and other times retreating to a stern demeanor. Flavia becomes acquainted with the other girls, exchanging information and even getting invited to late night meetings involving Ouija board, but she doesn't gain a true friend. She is intent on finding out more about the body, and about finding what truth there is to the rumors of missing girls.
There is an element of intrigue here that seems to make things unnecessarily difficult, with certain topics off limits, and a secret society, brought up in the previous novel, making a larger appearance here. Flavia is an intelligent girl and relates best to those who recognize that and who are also intelligent, which means that her strong relationships are to adults. Here, she looks forward to chemistry classes with Mrs. Bannerman, a woman acquitted of murder, and one knowledgeable with Flavia's favourite subject. There is less labl time here, although chemistry does indeed play a role in the mystery.
There are several interesting new characters here, that I hope to see again, but I missed the folks from Bishops Lacey.

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