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Bookmarks Issue: 
45-Mar-Apr-2010
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0

A-TrueConfectionsKatharine Weber is the author of four novels: Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear, The Music Lesson, The Little Women, and Triangle. She currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Columbia University.

The Story: In the 1970s, WASPy teenager Alice Tatnall accidentally sets fire to a friend’s house and is branded "Arson Girl." The label causes her to be rejected, first by her humiliated parents and then by a college admissions department. Alice finds solace and surprising enjoyment working in a New Haven, Connecticut candy factory called Zip’s. Founded in 1924 by the Jewish Hungarian immigrant Eli Czaplinsky, Zip’s is famous for its "Dat’s Tasty!" company slogan and its assortment of chocolate-covered (and racially suspect) Little Sammies. When Alice marries the Zip’s candy heir, she finds herself immersed in a whole new, and not so sweet, way of life.
Shaye Areheart Books. 288 pages. $22. ISBN: 9780307395863

Chicago Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"Katharine Weber is one of the wittiest, most stimulating novelists at work today. … Reading True Confections is an intellectual rather than an emotional experience, but on those terms, it’s wonderful fun and endlessly provocative." Wendy Smith

Cleveland Plain Dealer 4 of 5 Stars
"[A] hoot, but a hoot with an edge. … True Confections provides a sweet interlude, with more complicated notes than you might guess."Karen R. Long

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"[H]er most delectable novel yet. … The more unreliable Alice appears, the more fascinating the story becomes." Diana Wagman

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"True Confections isn’t a rollicking novel, since Alice isn’t the rollicking type, but it’s got everything: humor, treachery, class struggle, racism, murder, capitalism and mass quantities of candy. … [A] great American tale." Jincy Willett

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"A novel should give us ‘that unique blend of sweetness and pleasure and something else, a deep note of something rich and exotic and familiar’ that a bite of good chocolate does. True Confections certainly delivers that delectability." Lisa Zeidner

Critical Summary

With her fifth novel, Katharine Weber delivers another comic, sad, and highly inventive storyline. Critics enjoyed learning about Alice Ziplinsky, whose multi-layered personality, revealed slowly through her imperfect narration, made for some fascinating reading. They were slightly less enamored with the extensive candy history lesson, which several reviewers found over-long and tiresome. Minor quibbles aside, True Confections was hailed as a compelling story of race, religion, candy, and one woman’s struggle to find acceptance. This novel is for readers who prefer their chocolate on slightly on the bitter side.

Recently Reviewed

Triangle | Katharine Weber: Fictional Esther Gottesfield survives the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York then goes on to face more tragedy and raise a son, and then a granddaughter, alone. She is sharing her story with her granddaughter when Ruth, a feminist historian interested in Esther’s story, intervenes, and the untold truths about Esther and that terrible day of the fire emerge. ( 4 of 5 Stars Selection Sept/Oct 2006)