After hearing so much about this book, and seeing such great reviews I really wanted to love it. I was expecting to become swept away and absorbed in the story, but it just didn't happen. This, like so many books that are set in England around WWII, was being compared to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Now I know to take those comparisons with a grain of salt, but in November (when I started this book) I did not. After putting the book down for a few months, I was persuaded to pick it up again by an honest review.
So why did I give it three stars if all I have to say is bad? It picked up in the middle of the book (literally half-way through) so if you can hold on long enough to get there, you will have made it to the meat of the story. There are too many subplots in this book for my taste (considering it's a children's/young adult's mystery book) and that's what adds pages to the novel. But the main plot is actually interesting and well put together; it's just a pity it takes so long to get there.
Flavia de Luce is an exaggerated character as an eleven year old who more resembles a Harvard professor than a pre-teen girl, but if you know that going in and can get over it, she is a fun, refreshing protagonist. Bradley does a good job of keeping the reader in the loop, and not leaving loose ends untied. The tale of the stolen stamp is original, and the background is fun. If only the first half of the book had been about the incidents leading up to the main caper, we wouldn't have had to sit through her father's chapters long monologue in the middle of the story to get the ball rolling. Although those chapters were the beginning of interesting for me, it felt a bit like the author realized he had to get the story going so he popped in this scene to give the reader all of the information that should have already been given.
I do, however, give it the award for best title and packaging (in hardcover) that I've seen in a while. Three Coconuts