Crossing continents and juggling lives, Black Cake is a powerful story of love and loss, kinship and separation, heartache and hope, spanning sixty years in the life of one family.
Eleanor Bennett won't let her own death get in the way of the truth. So when her estranged children - Byron and Benny - reunite for her funeral in California, they discover a puzzling inheritance.
First, a voice recording in which everything Byron and Benny ever knew about their family is upended. Their mother narrates a tumultuous story about a headstrong young woman who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder, a story which cuts right to the heart of the rift that's separated Byron and Benny.
Second, a traditional Caribbean black cake made from a family recipe with a long history that Eleanor hopes will heal the wounds of the past.
Can Byron and Benny fulfil their mother's final request to 'share the black cake when the time is right'? Will Eleanor's revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?
'What an extraordinary debut. I was instantly taken in by this multi-generational tale of identity, family, and the lifelong push and pull of home. This novel has a tremendous heart at its centre, and I felt its beat on every page.'
Mary Beth Keane, author of Ask Again, Yes
Average rating from 16 members
This multigenerational and dual-timeline story is so beautifully written – I’m struggling to believe it’s Charmaine’s debut. The cake is the glue that holds all the layers together and the scenes are so well drawn that I could almost taste the cake, feel the warm sea on my skin. My heart broke and was put back together. Bravo.
Spanning generations and crossing different continents this is a very powerful and moving story. There is quite a cast of characters but each section is clearly named so you know who is who. This moves from the present day back in time and starts with the reading of the will of Eleanor Bennett. Unable to tell her children the truth but needing them to know before she dies Eleanor records her message to be heard with her solicitor and her children after her death. Its quite a complex story with many, many layers but it flows really well. I think the short sections within the chapters of the book really help. I enjoyed Covey and Bunny and I didnt guess until the reveal who she was. I enjoyed hearing about her life and what happened to her. I think it was well written and I found it impossible to put down once I had started reading. I liked the ending it really tied up all the lose ends. There are lots of sensitive issues racisim and rape amongst the many but all handled and written with care and sensitivity. I absolutely loved this book and highly recommended it.
Crossing continents and juggling lives, Black Cake is a powerful story of love and loss, kinship and separation, heartache and hope, spanning sixty years in the life of one family. I loved the emotions this book puts the reader through. Stunning absolutely stunning!
This is the quickest I have got through a book in a little while. I very quickly became attached the main character Covey and wanted to understand how her children had become so disconnected from each other. I enjoyed the structure of the book with the story being told from the viewpoint of a different character in a different period of time. Moving at times, a great book from this first time novelist. I am not surprised this is being made into a TV series.
This story is incredible. It’s hard to describe the intricacies you find as each page is turned, how one event is linked to another, how a person could disappear and still find themselves. Despite originating decades back there is so much in the book that feels incredibly real and current. Byron’s daily experience of racism, Benny’s confusion over her identity, not to mention the consistent knocks that Covey experienced as a young black woman with no family support, Charmaine’s talent is obvious- to be able to intertwine so many interesting threads of a story around the black cake is just mind blowing. I absolutely loved it- a refreshing change to my usual genre.
The one thing I struggled with when reading this book is the fact that it's a debut novel! Staggering! The story is beautifully narrated from start to finish. Lots of characters throughout but rather than confuse, they just enhanced the tale and added true depth. I am without a doubt going to be purchasing multiple copies of this book as gifts so that family and friends can feel the beauty of Black Cake. I really think it would make a fantastic movie!
I would highly recommend this book, it was a beautiful read and really I was immersed in it from the first chapter, the story being woven round Eleanor's posthumous recorded message to her children worked extremely well, there were plenty of twists and turns too which kept you engaged to the very end
This is such a beautifully written book that is so full of layers that i think i could read it a hundred times and still get something new from this book. I think that the dual timeline aspect worked really well and i loved the characters, one of the best books that I have read this year
Where to start with this novel spanning generations of a family and countries including the West Indies, England, America and Italy? At the heart of the story is black cake, a delicious West Indian concoction with a recipe passed through the women in the Bennett family. But also at its heart are terrible secrets, friendships and loss that culminate in a deathbed testimonial read to three children by their mother’s lawyer. I won’t say more: the stories are intriguing and come together beautifully. Occasionally the author addresses some huge societal issues such as slavery and police harassment of black people and these feel a little clunky while hugely important, but this is a minor point in this beautiful and completely absorbing first novel. Recommended: the great characterisation and plotting will stay with me for a long time. I’m bereft now it’s over!
A powerful, expansive, stunning debut. Centred on an audio recording left to estranged siblings Benny and Byron following their mother’s death, Black Cake ends up telling the stories of intertwining lives across generations. It is a story about identity, secrets, love, loss and the bonds that hold us together. Wilkerson is clearly a huge new talent and I’ll look forward to seeing what she does next.
A beautiful ode to the Caribbean culture and history. The intertwined stories of generations throughout the years and continents. It is weirdly addictive for a fiction book and it goes to show how beautifully and cleverly written this novel is. Being of Caribbean heritage myself, I teared up a bit as I felt enveloped as well as overwhelmed by all the emotions brought up by “Black cake”. A magnificent story which should not be missed.
An amazing debut from Charmaine Wilkerson, this is a multi-generational tale of love lost and found. This story is beautifully written, skilfully weaving together the characters to tell their tale of family and identity across the years. There are secrets to be uncovered, truths to be found out and of course, a hefty dose of romance with a dash of danger to speed things along. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and was fully immersed with Benny and Byron in their quest, right to the very end. The ending was satisfying without feeling cliched - I felt that I could almost taste the cake and made me think of my own grandmother's fruit cake recipe used for weddings, Christmas and any other big occasions!
“Sometimes, the stories we don’t tell people about ourselves matter even more than the things we do say.” I really hope this book is made into a huge tv series like This Is Us. There are so many layers to these different generations of characters and their friends, plus their different locations, interests and cultures. It’s almost impossible to summarise this book briefly because it could have easily been six seasons of an addictive show. But it all starts with an audiotape that Eleanor Bennett leaves to her 2 children, Byron and Benny, on her death bed. Many family secrets are revealed and one final dying wish is asked to be granted. The story spans 60 years and multiple countries, mostly the West Indies, The UK, America and Italy, and explores all of the highs, lows and in-betweens of what happens when different cultures combine, as well as how the world changes over time. My main (well, only) gripe is that the writing lacked a little flair. I struggled to find sentences to highlight as being particularly beautiful - one of my favourite things to do! But I understand that the impressive amount of plot points, events and timelines must have left little room for flourishes! Favourite quote: “I’m honored that the principle has invited me here to speak to you all today, as a kind of role model. But let me repeat myself. If you don’t see someone out there who looks like you, you need to go for it, anyway.” Black Cake will be available from 3rd February 2022, thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.