Take chocolate candy, add a family business at war with itself, and stir with an outsider’s perspective. This is the recipe for True Confections, the irresistible new novel by Katharine Weber, a writer whose work has won accolades from Iris Murdoch, Madeleine L’Engle, Wally Lamb, and Kate Atkinson, to name a few.
Alice Tatnall Ziplinsky’s marriage into the Ziplinsky family has not been unanimously celebrated. Her greatest ambition is to belong, to feel truly entitled to the heritage she has tried so hard to earn. Which is why Zip’s Candies is much more to her than just a candy factory, where she has worked for most of her life. In True Confections, Alice has her reasons for telling the multigenerational saga of the family-owned-and-operated candy company, now in crisis.
Nobody is more devoted than Alice to delving into the truth of Zip’s history, starting with the rags-to-riches story of how Hungarian immigrant Eli Czaplinsky developed his famous candy lines, and how each of his candies, from Little Sammies to Mumbo Jumbos, was inspired by an element in a stolen library copy of Little Black Sambo, from which he taught himself English. Within Alice’s vivid and persuasive account (is her unreliability a tactic or a condition?) are the stories of a runaway slave from the cacao plantations of Côte d’Ivoire and the Third Reich’s failed plan to establish a colony on Madagascar for European Jews.
Richly informed, deeply moving, and spiked with Weber’s trademark wit, True Confections is, at its heart, a timeless and universal story of love, betrayal, and chocolate.
In this winning, offbeat tale, Weber unfurls Alice Tatnall's insecure Unitarian adolescence, which leads to her approval-seeking adulthood as the wife of candy heir Howard "Howdy" Ziplinsky. Alice has felt ostracized by family and peers after accidentally burning down a classmate's house as a teenager. As a result, her college acceptance is rescinded, and she ends up working at Zip's Candies, where she meets and falls in love with the owner's son, a Jewish man 10 years her senior. After marrying Howard, Alice takes to the candy business quickly and has two kids. Alice's story, framed as an affidavit, is a pleasure to read and full of small and not so small surprises, including the near-tragedy at the candy company that has much to do with why she's writing an affidavit in the first place. Alice is an immediately lovable narrator, and her narration eventually bears hints about its possible lack of credibility, giving readers even more of a reason to keep turning pages. This story of love, life and sweets is a genuine treat.
Very well written
One of my favorite books. It has everything: arson, chocolate, betrayal, history, and humor. I would recommend this to anyone.