Thursday, February 5, 2015

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - Alan Bradley


I finally finished a book!  I finished four in January, a paltry amount for me.  I've been struggling with a post holiday / mid winter slump.  I think things are looking up.  The amaryllis my cousin gave me for Christmas, eight orange-red blooms, is lifting my heart. 

Sometimes it's the little things:

                                                                        Dust of Snow
                                                                       by Robert Frost

                                                                      The way a crow 
                                                                     Shook down on me 
                                                                       The dust of snow 
                                                                     From a hemlock tree

                                                                      Has given my heart 
                                                                      A change of mood 
                                                                    And saved some part 
                                                                     Of a day I had rued. 

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust has also helped me climb out of the abyss.  It's not a short book, almost 400 pages, but it's a fast read.

Some reviewers haven't liked this Flavia de Luce book because it takes place at a boarding school in Canada and not in Flavia's crumbling home in England.  That didn't bother me at all.  I'm more interested in Flavia than I am in her home or her family.  I did miss Dogger, though.

Flavia has been shipped off to the boarding school her mother went to.  It's also a training ground for members of the ultra secret and (to me at least) mysterious organization headed by her Aunt Felicity.  It's so secret that no one knows who's in it and I'm not clear on what their mission is.  Maybe I missed something in a previous book.

That doesn't detract from the murder that Flavia finds herself solving.  Her first night at the school,  she's attacked in her room by a fellow student  -  and a body falls down the chimney.  It ain't Santa Claus.  It's been up the chimney for a while.  The head that rolls off the body is a mummy's head, but the body is thousands of years younger.

Flavia must find out whose body it is, how it got there, why the person was killed, and who the killer is.  Just when she thinks she knows all, she realizes she doesn't.  

I enjoyed As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust and will look forward to the next Flavia book.


  1. Love the Frost poem! Yay for books that help you through a slump!

    1. About fifteen years ago, I went through a phase where I vowed to learn one short poem each week. When my father went to school, in the 1920s, they had to memorize poems all the time. He continued to amaze me as, into his eighties, he could recite The Wreck of the Hesperus, among other poems. I taped the poems on my mirror so I could see them every time I brushed my teeth, washed my hands, etc. Of course that didn't last too long, and this is the only one of them I remember.

      Yes, thank you books that get us back on track! I picked up a book of essays (you'll read about it shortly) at the library yesterday and have already read about 160 pages.

    2. Wait! I just remembered another of them: 'Loveliest of trees the cherry, now' by A. E. Housman. You might notice that poems about nature are the ones I find most soothing and inspiring.

  2. Well that's two more than I can remember! I'm glad you're over your reading slump. How about a Seven Pillars of Wisdom readalong sometime this year, I think we've both had that one unread for years.

    1. I'll have to take a look at Seven Pillars again. I'd pulled out Moby Dick and Don Quixote for my first big reads of the year. I'll let you know.

  3. I enjoyed this one too, Joan and also missed Dogger. He's my favorite character. They have never been clear on 'the mission'. Not that I could make out! Lovely poem.

    1. Oh, good, I'm glad you don't know what the mission is either! I really like Dogger, too. He and Flavia are the only characters I think are fully fleshed out and endearing.

      Thank Robert Frost for the poem. He was one of my father's favorite poets.