Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wow, you’re related to whom?

I always enjoy hearing about friends’ families. Who they are related to and the stories they share about certain family members are fascinating to me. I, unfortunately, can only say that way, way back, one of my ancestors fought in the American Revolution. And, more recently, I can claim a relation to Ed Muskie, best known for being Governor of Maine (although he did hold other notable political positions).

But what about you, do you have a family member who is notable in history? Perhaps there is an author in your family or someone who has been written about in a book?

While speaking with my colleague and fellow librarian, Michelle Gowans, she told me that C. Alan Bradley, author of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, is her uncle. So, I asked her, as a relative, what is your honest opinion of Mr. Bradley’s work? And, would she be willing to write about her uncle's work so that I can share her thoughts on The Reader? Michelle enthusiastically agreed.  Here is what she said:

For those readers of this blog whose curiosity may have been piqued by Maureen's review and readalikes list of C. Alan Bradley's recent publishing sensation, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, I would also like to draw attention to the author's previous releases that readers might not be as familiar with.

Bradley released a personal memoir in 2006,
The Shoebox Bible, in which he details his upbringing in post-war southern Ontario, and the complexities of being raised by a single parent. Abandoned by their father and husband, Bradley, his sister and mother make ends meet with creativity, initiative and love. His mother finds strength from snippets of scripture that she jots down on slips of paper collected from daily life: receipts, calendars, pie boxes and the like. Bradley first discovers these in an old shoebox hidden beneath the floorboards in her room, but only discovers their meaning many decades later. Honestly and sensitively written, it is the story of a family and the journey to understand the mysteries of the past.

Bradley also caused a publishing sensation back in 1989 along with his co-author, William A.S. Sarjeant, when they published
Ms. Holmes of Baker Street, their hypothesis that Sherlock Holmes was, in fact, a woman. It met with both the delight and disdain of the Sherlockian world at the time and continues to fuel the debate since its re-release by the University of Alberta Press in 2004.

As my favourite Uncle and Mentor, I had the privilege of growing up reading and listening to Bradley's work and having long conversations about an eclectic mix of subjects that inevitably included books. Reading his recent work is reminiscent of those treasured conversations and I am delighted that readers everywhere will now have the opportunity to enter into the author's world, which is rich with a generosity of enquiry and enormously entertaining owing to a wicked sense of humour. Some have called
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie "Enid Blyton for Adults", but I highly expect that Flavia's exploits will soon find favour within the J and YA markets as well given the recent phenomenon of such crossover titles as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Now that Flavia has her own fan club and two further titles in the series are already planned, I think we will be hearing a great deal from him in future.

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