Cover Image: Black Cake

Black Cake

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Member Reviews

Themes of loss, love, humanity and culture drenched in every page, it was simply wonderful to read. 

The audio takes you on a journey that is shocks the siblings, not only told truths but the lies that were told and the sacrifices their parents made. 

The way this book is written is just so intense and poetic at the same time.
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When Eleanor dies she wants to get her estranged children back together. She leaves them a tape telling them her story of how she runs away after a murder. A beautifully written story, really enjoyed this book.
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Just finished Black Cake which follows two fragmented siblings bought together by their mother, Eleanor’s death. I loved Eleanor’s chapters, especially seeing how her secrets impacted the lives of her children. Black Cake never lost me even as it spanned generations and continents. Overall, a moving debut.
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I love the cover of this novel and was really drawn to it by the synopsis and rave reviews. It tells the story of estranged siblings Byron and Benny who are brought together after the death of their mother. They are left a recording and a Black cake (a traditional Caribbean cake) by their mother- is this enough to reunite them ? For me Black Cake was a slow paced read and I got a little lost in the narrative which I felt jumped around too much. I was more interested in the present day story and found myself switching off at Covey's story. A novel that didn't really take off for me.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this digital ARC.
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I had seen so many good reviews for this book that I couldn't wait to jump in; however I was so disappointed as within the first few chapters I just knew this wasnt the book for me

Sadly did not finish
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It is very hard to believe that Black Cake is a first novel. The writing is beautiful and self assured and the plot so original. The title is brilliant and enticing!

This is the story of brother and sister, Byron and Bennie who are reunited following their Mother’s death. They meet with their Mother’s lawyer who tells them that their Mother has left them a black cake - a traditional cake baked in the Caribbean  and a recording. The voice of their Mother tells the  story of a young girl called Covey .. a talented swimmer, a young woman with friends and a boyfriend and a great life ahead of her, a young woman with a father who is deeply in debt. They listen in amazement at what is revealed in the recording..

I loved this book. The writing and the story had a real vibrancy about it - the language, the descriptions, the characters all felt full of colour and life. I felt that the story of young Covey was unique and spellbinding. i loved the characters particularly Benny who is complex, vulnerable,  uncertain of her sexuality, feeling judged by her family who don’t understand her. Although she severed relations with her family she craves their approbation and affection. 

The writing is exceptional conjuring up incredibly vivid images of diverse settings and in particular in its descriptions of the Caribbean. The writer had a unique writing style where she would tell a little story simply by building up a series of sentences…And the black cake itself felt like a metaphor of the story - rich dark ingredients, stirred and mixed, deeply delicious when the recipe was followed …

I really look forward to more from this talented author. 

With many thanks to Netgalled and for a digital copy of this wonderful book.
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LOVED THIS!!!! So happy to see a debut book like this, amazing content! Can't wait to read more books like this
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An absolute stunner of a book and not what I was expecting at all from the cover or the title of the book. I anticipated some sort of lightweight romantic fiction, but this although there are love stories in the book, there is so much more besides.

Black Cake starts with a bride who has disappeared into the waves on her wedding day; then it jumps forward to the present day when adult siblings Benny and Byron come back together after too long apart, to hear a letter that their late mother insists they listen to. She tells them that she has left them one final Black Cake, and when the time is right, they should eat it together. 

The two haven't spoken to each for so long due to a series of misunderstandings and stubbornness, so the thought of them enjoying each other's company again does not feel like a possibility, but they have to listen to the letter. The letter gives the siblings information about their mother's life that they had no idea was even in question, and it starts with a huge bombshell, that they have another sibling out there in the world.

Black Cake travels back and forward across generations and continents, bringing valuable family history and missing secrets to light and changing B &B's view of each other and their family for ever.

I was riveted to the book, I couldnt wait to find out what was going to come next, and some of the revelations blew me away. Back Cake has already received rave reviews and I am going to add my voice to them! A solid 5 stars.
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I was sent a copy of Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson to read and review by NetGalley.  After all the good reviews and hype about this debut novel I was really keen to read it.  Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t live up to expectations – nowhere near.  In fact I almost gave up several times but persevered, until eventually I found I still had 30% of the book left to read and I decided that enough was enough.
I don’t give up on books lightly and I really wanted this one to be good, but it was incredibly repetitive, with too many characters having their own chapters and saying exactly the same thing.  The same explanations kept being rolled out again and again, and the continuous use of a name in every paragraph where ‘she’ would have done, rather than ‘Benny’ this and ‘Benny’ that was very irritating.
The premise of the story was great but I thought the execution was terrible.  I am surprized that the editor didn’t send the copy back to be drastically culled.  This could have been a great story had it just been told by one person, possibly two – Benny and her mother?  And use of the first person might have injected the very flat prose with some feeling - and it should have been much much shorter.  I am really sorry to write such a downer of a review, especially for a new voice, but we are asked to be honest and these are my own personal opinions.
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I enjoyed this book and the characters, it developed slowly but I enjoyed the different perspectives and shifting time lines.
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Thank you so much  Penguin Michael Joseph UK and NetGalley for the ARC.

I requested Black Cake because I was intrigued both by the name and book cover. If 'debut' was a genre then I'd say it is one of my most favorites! It is books like Black Cake that make it so. What a stunning debut! I don't know if anything I say will do justice to this heartfelt and moving novel. It has everything from beautiful writing to well-developed characters, intergenerational family saga, rich descriptions, a hidden past, estranged siblings, family issues, racism, cultural diaspora, climate change and environmental protection! There are many more! But not even for a single moment did I feel overwhelmed with so many themes, Charmaine has done such justice to each one the themes and weaved a beautiful story. 

I have already gifted two copies and will be giving out more to my friends and family so they can enjoy this! A powerful, moving story!
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

I was gripped by this story right from the outset. I guessed the twist fairly early but that doesn't affect your enjoyment of Wilkerson's lyrical prose and engaging narrative. Having read books like Levy's Small Island, the story of Caribbean immigrants to the UK was fairly familiar but having the family also then emigrate to America gave it a new angle. I also LOVED the character of Etta Pringle. This story is a testament to Black history, and the history of strong women around the world.
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This book! 
Sure to be a top ten read of the year for me. It hit the mark perfectly. 
This book showed me that through the Bennett family saga we are all one big cultural melting pot with our food representation, our relationships, our genetics, heritage and social influences.  

I enjoyed every page of this novel. The chapters are short sharp and jumps from one character to the next in a succinct way that weaves each of their life story's together. 

This debut novel from Charmaine Wilkerson is brilliant and wow, what a start to what will with no doubt in my mind be a flourishing writing career for her. I fully appreciated her authors note at the end too. I would not hesitate to read more from her and I will certainly be recommending this book to many. 

Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book.
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Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson is a compelling and mysterious story with an epic feel, spanning generations and continents. It totally sucked me in from the outset, helped by the short and snappy chapters and the intriguingly frosty relationship between siblings Byron and Benny.

The narrative switches work really well in this book, as we flick backwards and forwards between Eleanor Bennett’s audio recording and the present day. I thought I had it all worked out a couple of times but was, as usual, proved wrong 😂

This is a tale that relies on quite a lot of coincidences so if you’re wanting 100% believability then I’m not sure this one is for you. That said, I really really enjoyed it!

With thanks to Michael Joseph for gifting me a digital copy to review. Black Cake is out now.
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Two estranged siblings, Benny and Byron, must listen to their late mother story, she recorded the tape before passing away- and learn the importance of their family tradition of making a Black Cake every year and the history of their family as she narrates her life, uncovering the many secrets she has kept from them.

The storytelling in this book is outstanding and powerful, all the characters are so well developed. There are so many layers to this book - it talks about identity, fitting in and touches topic such as the Carribean Diaspora. I cried several times whilst reading this book, both from happiness and sadness. This is a must read for this year.
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There was a lot to love about this book. It was an emotional and intriguing story, and I loved the unravelling of Covey's life told via the recording she prepared for her daughter Benny and son Byron after her death. I particularly enjoyed the chapters relating to her younger years and her relationship with the sea and swimming.
It's a book about love and friendship and sibling relationships and many other things and at the essence of it all is the black cake.

Black Cake covers many issues, and as a result, some do not get enough airing, in my opinion. I'd like to read more about these important issues and enhance my understanding and knowledge. As Charmaine writes wonderfully and has interwoven these into her story, I wish she'd left some to explore more deeply in future books.

I'd happily read more by this author.
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Black Cake has been much lauded and with good reason! A story about family and food and the way it can bring us together. Charmaine Wilkerson is a huge talent, and I can't wait to read what she writes next.
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***4.5 stars***

What a joy this was to read this debut... I repeat debut from Charmaine Wilkerson. The quality and depth of writing was simply amazing, I was blown away. I loved all the characters who were introduced to us from Bunny the best friend to Pearl the care taker (who all hold a special place in my heart).

This book was very poignant and deals with sensitive issues with such care and consideration- the research about the time periods and culture this author must have done was really clear in how she handled the issues discussed and I commend the author. 

In my recap of 2022 at the end of the year, this book will easily find its way onto the list, there is no doubt! Please please give this book a try!
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A beautiful and quietly epic debut novel from Charmaine Wilkerson. We join Byron and Benny on a journey of discovery as they learn about their family history and the secrets kept by their mother. 

It’s a moving and emotional story which hangs together well and includes plenty of twists along the way. I will be thinking about this one for some time and recommending it to others.
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It took me a while to get into the story, but once I was I couldn't stop reading. This is so amazing, brilliant and beatifully written. Really emotional and thought provoking. Highly recommended!
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