I am currently enjoying The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. I cheer for the protagonist, 11-year-old detective Flavia de Luce, as only a former 11-year-old detective (and not her mother) can.
Flavia rides her late mother’s three-speed BSA Keep Fit bicycle, L’Hirondelle, (the swallow) which she found “languishing for years in a toolshed”. She rescues her from “rusty oblivion” but her tires were flat and “her gears bone dry and crying out for oil”. She restores L’Hirondelle, and renames her Gladys.
Gladys carries Flavia on her investigations and allows her the freedom of movement and imagination we all relished at that age. “...I let Gladys have her head, swooping down the slopes past the rushing hedges, imaging all the while I was the pilot of one of the Spitfires which, just five years ago, had skimmed these very hedgerows like swallows as they came in to land at Leathcote.”
I wasn’t surprised to find an online ‘Flavia de Luce Fan Club’ as I’ve only read a few chapters, but I can’t wait to find out what she does next.