In 1975, Alice Tatnall, a convicted felon and local pariah at age eighteen thanks to her having accidentally burned down a classmate’s house, wanders on an impulse into Zip’s Candies in New Haven, Connecticut, to fill out a job application. There she is hired on the spot and promptly discovers both her future calling, the candy business, and her future husband, Howard Ziplinsky, whose family has run Zip’s for generations.
Telling her story in the form of an affidavit given in 2009 as the feuding Ziplinsky family prepares to head to court over the future of their business, Alice is a splendid character, frequently digressing from her narration to take jabs at her in-laws and offering everything from grammar lessons to snippets of Ziplinsky family history to a spirited critique of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Along the way, we learn a great deal about the workings of the candy business and its history in America.
True Confections is as slyly ambitious as it is funny, tackling themes such as greed, intergenerational strife, betrayal, and the decline of the small manufacturer in such a painless fashion that the reader will hardly notice the substance mixed in among the sweets. It’s a real treat.