BKMT READING GUIDES



 
Interesting,
Fun,
Adventurous

2 reviews

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Flavia De Luce Mystery 2)
by Alan Bradley

Published: 2010-04-15
Hardcover : 352 pages
0 members reading this now
1 club reading this now
0 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 2 members
The story opens with the immortal words 'I was lying dead in the churchyard' (spoken, astonishingly, by Flavia herself) and ends with a funeral watched by the De Luce family on a newly-installed television set. Inbetween, Alan Bradley weaves a hauntingly nightmarish tale that involves ...
No other editions available.
Add to Club Selections
Add to Possible Club Selections
Add to My Personal Queue
Jump to

Introduction

(The story opens with the immortal words 'I was lying dead in the churchyard' (spoken, astonishingly, by Flavia herself) and ends with a funeral watched by the De Luce family on a newly-installed television set. Inbetween, Alan Bradley weaves a hauntingly nightmarish tale that involves Punch & Judy - and in particular Mr Punch's nemesis, the hangman, Jack Ketch - a frighteningly realistic puppet show, and a hitherto unexplored corner of Bishop's Lacey known as Gibbet's Wood. The plot, beginning with the arrival in Bishop's Lacey of a travelling puppet show, features a grisly murder during a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk in the village hall and reaches back to an earlier, even nastier crime centring on an ancient, rotting gibbet that has lain like a shadow over the village for years. For Flavia, undoing the complex knot that ties these strands together will test her precocious powers of deduction to the limit - and provide a shocking insight into some of the darker corners of the adult world.

Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce walked into my life one winter day, parked herself on a campstool, and refused to be budged.

It took me quite a while to realize that she wasn?t even faintly interested in the mystery novel I was attempting to write at the time: the one into which she had wandered. I found out quickly enough that Flavia wanted her own book--and that was that.

And it was just the beginning. There were still more problems to come.

The first was this: Flavia lived in 1950, while I was writing about her in 2006 and 2007.

As an author, it's not as easy as you might think projecting--and keeping--your mind in a different century from your body--not without forever being yanked back into the present by everyday annoyances such as frozen water pipes, expiring license plates, incessantly barking dogs, and the need to shop for food.

Another problem was this: I lived on Canada's west coast, where the clocks are set to Pacific Time, while Flavia lived in Bishop's Lacey, England, which is on Greenwich Mean Time--a difference of nine hours. In practical terms, this meant that Flavia was raring to go every day just as I was getting ready for bed. Because there was no point in either of us being tired and cranky, we finally managed to work out a compromise in which I began awakening at 4:00 a.m. to write, while Flavia (rather impatiently) hung around until after lunch, waiting for me to show up.

As The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie progressed, I soon learned that Flavia wouldn?t be pushed around--especially by me. Because she had so many of her own ideas, she had little patience with mine. Occasionally, if I were tired, I?d find myself trying to put words in her mouth: to push her, as it were. But Flavia would have none of it.

"Blot that," she seemed to be saying. "Let's back up and start again."

And of course we did.

Then there was the problem of the chemistry. While Flavia knew everything about chemistry that could be known, my own knowledge of the subject could be put into a thimble with room left over for a finger. If I protested that I was in doubt about the precise details of one of her more bizarre chemical experiments, Flavia would snap her metaphorical fingers and say, "Well, you can look it up in your spare time."

Almost from the outset I realized that the tale Flavia had to tell could never be contained in a single book. And that's how the series was born. Fortunately, my editors were in total agreement!

We liked the idea of each book revolving around some now-vanished English custom, or way of life, and of being able, gradually, to get to know the de Luce family, giving each of them the time and the space to--eventually--tell his or her own story.

Of course, to convey authentic 1950s voices, the pacing would have to be slower than we are used to in the 21st century. On the other hand, a more relaxed narrative would allow for an additional overall richness of description that might not be found in a more breakneck series of thrillers.

But I needn?t have worried: Flavia had her own voice and insisted on being listened to.

It was I who had to do the learning. --Alan Bradley

(Photo Shirley Bradley)




Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

No Excerpt Currently Available

Discussion Questions

No discussion questions at this time.

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag"by Neyly (see profile) 11/16/10

I read this book soon after finishing The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I thoroughly enjoy Flavia's adventures - solving crimes in her small part of the English countryside. I read constantly and... (read more)

 
  "I LOVE Flavia"by rowchick (see profile) 11/10/10

These books are addictive, but not in the cheesy, young adult sense. Sure, the narrator is an 11 year old girl, but the subject matter and treatment that the story receives is way beyond that and clearly... (read more)

Rate this book
MEMBER LOGIN
Remember me
BECOME A MEMBER it's free

Join the leading website for book clubs with over 35,000 clubs and 20,000 reading guides.

SEARCH OUR READING GUIDES Search
Search


FEATURED EVENTS
PAST AUTHOR CHATS
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...