This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that if you buy something, I might earn a small commission from that sale at no cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.
Content warnings for The Candy House provided at the bottom of this post, for those who would find them useful. You can find further details on content warnings here.
The Candy House by Jennifer Egan summary
The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is “one of those tech demi-gods with whom we’re all on a first name basis.” Bix is 40, with four kids, restless, desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or “externalizing” memory. It’s 2010. Within a decade, Bix’s new technology, “Own Your Unconscious”—that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others—has seduced multitudes. But not everyone.
The Candy House by Jennifer Egan Review
This is my first Jennifer Egan book, though I definitely heard wonderful things about A Visit from the Goon Squad. That being said, I’m quite pleased with The Candy House being my introduction. Egan is a unique writer — I know that is said all the time about authors, but she really has a standout voice in my opinion. In fact, I would say she’s a master of more than one voice, if The Candy House is anything to go by. Truly a chameleon.
Let me start by saying I didn’t expect a single thing in this book. It was one of the most unique reads I’ve had in a while, and Egan doesn’t dumb things down. The Candy House is a fast ride, despite being somewhat of a long book, thanks to its wholly unique characters and amusing voices. Some of the characters are very strange, but I felt a fondness for all of them, even the one who likes to scream in public as an experiment. Although some of them seem downright outlandish, Egan manages to humanize every one of their stories beautifully.
The Candy House is officially a novel, but it felt more to me like a collection of stories. For the most part, each character had one section dedicated solely to their story, and for the rest of the novel all you see of them is glancing mentions when they are involved with the other stories. I found that I grew attached to certain characters and didn’t want their sections to end, but that recognition later on kept me attuned and eased me into the other points of view. It was a really lovely and complex narrative weave that I admire in a novel.
The Candy House isn’t a light read, but it is a fun one. I listened to the majority of it doing chores around my flat, in meditative moments where I could zone out and tune into the story. If you love a good literary read, this is one you need to check out. If you do end up reading The Candy House, let me know your thoughts.
The Candy House by Tory Henwood Hoen was released April 5, 2022. Although Scribner Book Company and libro.fm provided me with a free review copy, this did not in any way affect my review.
CW: Mental illness, death or dying