I am a candy store owner, and as such, I try to read at least one candy-themed book a year. This was my candy book for 2013. I was a bit wary, due to some of the more negative/critical reviews here, and I recall (but can’t specifically find) a less than glowing mention on The Candy Blog
. However, I did not realize until I physically had the book in hand, that the author was British. His candy world view is therefore a bit different from we Americans’. I did not notice a problem with commas, or lack thereof, as mentioned by another reviewer, but I was bothered by Robinson’s overuse of the word “nice.” As in things tasting nice. That is not something Americans typically, or maybe ever, say. We say things taste good. “Nice” has a connotation of sarcasm or belittlement. I was also annoyed by Robinson’s use of “sweetie” for candy or sweet, and he uses “sweet” and “sweetie” interchangeably, even in the same sentence a few times. Another was the “Lucky Dip,” the author’s name for the little bonus bits of information about different types of candy at the end of each chapter. If someone British can explain how that makes sense here, please do.
I am sorry to say that I was rather bored with this book. I am most interested in the last 100 years or so of candy history, and that is not the focus of this book, which mainly covers pre-history through the early 1900s. But that’s not why it was boring. Instead of being captivating to read, it read more like a text book or a series of encyclopedia entries than a book one would read for fun and entertainment. The author makes some attempts at humor: “munchurian candying candidate” (351) was pretty bad. Others are actually funny, but not enough to redeem the whole work, and there some phrases that I just didn’t get, which I will blame on them being lost in the cultural translation. I am rating it a 3, not because I can really say I liked it, but I give the writing and presentation a 2, and the sheer amount of research (the bibliography is the longest I’ve ever seen at over 4 pages) a 4, averaging a 3. I don’t like the book, and I was glad to be done with it, but I respect it, and the staggering amount of work that must have gone into it.
For a more amusing and entertaining look into American candy, I highly recommend Steve Almond’s
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