This talk of lemon polenta cake and cream teas is addictive and reminds me that I never reviewed the book I read for dessert as part of the Well-Seasoned challenge. Let’s put that right now.

It is now two months since I read the book and the reason why this review is so delayed is that I’m disappointed that it’s not joining the list of my  reads. On the back of the review available on TheMooreTheMerrier I starting reading the latest in my Mooreathon with the highest of expectations, completely and utterly expecting myself to be blown away. It didn’t happen, which is not to say that THe Emperor of Ice Cream isn’t an excellent read. I think I was expecting something to grab me in the same way as “The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne” did.  I don’t currently have much empathy with adolescent male leads – and the stupidity of this one made my blood boil in places.  (Interesting that this novel is the most autobiographical of Moore’s output – suggesting that while I admire the author, I wouldn’t have got on with the man?)  But while I was alienated from the personal drama, I was fascinated by the historical, completely amazed at the mindset that couldn’t wait for the second world war to hit Belfast. And didn’t it just, when the Luftwaffe got its sights in! I realise the foregoing sounds rather ambivalent but let me stress that The Emperor of Ice-Cream is still a   read and far superior to much contemporary fiction. I agree with John Self that it is a travesty that it is out of print.   Here’s hoping that Faber will find it and republish ..

Sometimes one pudding is not enough and because this is a virtual feast, indulging in a second won’t hurt the waistline. 

Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was a prizewinner before it was even published – the first chapter winning the CWA debut dagger in 2007.  Since then that chapter has developed into a fine first novel, the start of what will be a 3-part series of Flavia de Luce detective novels.  Flavia de Luce, an 11-year old,  the youngest, and much put upon, daughter of 3.  Forced to withdraw from the malevolence of her elder sisters, she has esconced herself in the long abandoned Victorian chemical laboratory at the top of the family mansion. .  She’s a precocious clever-clogs, meddling in things she shouldn’t and tenacious in all she does, whether it be wreaking revenge on her  “ugly” sisters or seeking to exonerate her father from a false charge of murder.  The setting in 1950 lends much charm.  The comic timing too is masterful in places – it’s unsophisticated and clean and made me laugh out loud more than once.  You need to be accepting of Flavia’s cleverness  and if you do, you’ll learn much about stamp-collecting, magical illusions and chemistry.  Flavia does a rather fine line in poison …..