Cover Image: Black Cake

Black Cake

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Member Reviews

This book was so magical. I felt transported to the island adn all I wanted is a piece of black cake. I recommended this to so many of my firends and family members

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One woman’s struggle to have her own life, be safe and be with the man she loves is the story of Covey Lyncook. Because of a forced marriage, she escapes from her Caribbean home and starts a new life. But the fates are not on her side, and she is once again forced to start over. She finally has the life she struggled for, only to have her past haunt her. Before her death, she leaves a message for her children. She tells them about her struggles and her history. She also tells them her deepest secret. How her children reacted to her story makes for a good read. This is a great multigenerational story with lots of twists and turns. I would recommend Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson.

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Black Cake was one of the best books I have ever read. I wish I could read it again for the first time. Make this your next read. You won’t regret it

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This novel is full of twists and turns and family secrets. It is up to siblings Benny and Byron to deal with their mother's unknown past and sacrifice. Through her telling of her personal story by audio recording, only to be played upon her death, her estranged children are pulled together and find one more big secret waiting for the.

I loved this book for the way it portrays a complex woman and family dynamics. It is also a great reminder on the importance of open communication and letting go of preconceived notions.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House/Ballantine for an advanced copy of Black Cake in exchange for an honest review.

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Food has long been an important part of family and culture with recipes being passed down through generations. This story revolves around the traditions and Caribbean Black Cake that was centerpiece of family gatherings. The story begins with Mr. Charles Mitch, the attorney delegated to handle the Will of Eleanor who dies a few years after her husband, Bert. She leaves her son, Byron and daughter, Benedetta "Benny" an audio recording of her wishes for her children as well as wanting to share some long held family secrets. Both Byron and Benny have gathered at their childhood home where they are forced to revisit the past and reconcile differences.

Back in 1965, Coventina "Covey" Lyncook was young with dreams which did not include her father, Johnny "Lin" Lyncook, marrying her off to Little Man to settle his gambling debt. She is plucked from her carefree youth spending time with her friend, Bunny swimming and crushing on surfer Gibbs. An unfortunate event occurs at the reception following the marriage ceremony of Covey and Little Man. He collapses on the floor and dies leading suspicion onto Covey as her resentment about the arranged marriage was evident. She is quickly allowed to flee from the island with help from friends after her husband Little Man collapses at the wedding reception. Covey fears going to jail for "murder" after his untimely death.

Covey befriends Eleanor "Elly" Douglas as they travel by train to London where Covey hopes to reunite with Gibbs and Eleanor seeks a job as a nurse. A tragic accident causes the train to derail leaving few survivors. Eleanor managed to piece her life together after the tragedy. She experiences more challenging events in the years to follow which all shape and define her life in ways she never imagined. She ultimately marries Bert and raises Byron and Benny "B and B" until Bert dies and she is alone dying of cancer. Upon her death, she instructs Mr. Mitch to ensure both siblings are present during her audio recorded "will" which also serves as a confession and exposure of long buried secrets. Her dying wish is for her children to reunite and understand the sacrifices and lies which were needed to protect the family.

This is a story rich with family traditions, secrets, love and tragedy. A bittersweet dedication to the endurance and resilience of the human spirit.

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I found Black Cake a compelling read. The story of the estranged siblings and their eventual reunion intertwined with the family secrets created an authentic story. They sibling’s struggles and family secrets are realistic and don’t feel contrived. I’m looking forward to my book club discussion discussing of the relationships and secrets while enjoying a slice of black cake.

Thank you NetGalley for this ARCof this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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I forgot to come back and review this because I ended up buying a print copy! Beautiful. Loved it. Also enjoyed the show! Looking forward to the next book by this author.

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This book definitely lived up to the hype for me!

I was hooked and completely intrigued by Eleanor's story and I could not stop reading! It was compelling and heartbreaking and beautiful, and explored family, identity, and the power of tradition.

Can't wait to watch the Hulu show!

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I found the opening of the book with a reading of a will to be very catching. Charmaine Wilkerson does not disappoint. This is a story of a brother and sister and how they grew apart and then found each other. It's a story of a mother with secrets that are revealed. It's a story of the times, cultures and most of all how a Black Cake ties them together. This is a good book for book club discussions.

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Delightful on many levels, this book took me by surprise. As someone who, like the author, is of Caribbean parentage, I loved the full and lush descriptions of small village life in what felt transparently to be Jamaica, though the narrative does not say so. I also loved (at first) the style of prose that was like an oral history being told by one of your elders, sprinkled with folkloric elements that make you question whether what you're being told is strictly factual, or colored and shaped by long-ago perceptions and difficult emotions. One example of that would be Gibbs' and Covey's reunion in the UK. 'Did it happen like that?' 'Could it have?' you want to ask. But because it is such a personal history, you hesitate to question it, and believe that where it may or may not be factually accurate, it is emotionally authentic.

And I don't know if it's because I have some cultural references that make it all make sense, but in a really lovely way, this story felt familiar. Not in the sense of my having read it before, but as something that speaks to parts of me that I hold closest: heritage, family, and the places where I come from. But back to the prose. The book began to falter for me a little when we got to the heavy stuff, Covey's revelations of her history in the UK—the loneliness and isolation, the fate of her only friend, what happened to her in the factory. Most of those very weighty topics were dealt with in summary fashion, giving us very little of Covey's interior. Interior monologue in general was for me a little bit of a problem in this novel. Not that there was too much of it (I hardly ever have that complaint) but that what we did get felt almost shallow.

Byron was more likely to wax philosophical about the state of the world's oceans and Black kids in STEM than he was to pine for his ex-girlfriend or ruminate on the coming change in their lives; Benny shed some tears of regret for having missed her chance at saying goodbye to her father but after almost a decade of silence, struggled almost not at all to share with her brother why she had missed that chance (the reason being pretty darn huge, I thought); and the reconciliation between Benny and Byron happened with a conversation and a hug, and no further thought by either of them about what they had lost before that reconciliation occurred.

I felt something for these characters (particularly Benny and Byron) because their circumstances demanded that we feel something for them. But it felt distant. I didn't feel a particularly strong stake in whether or not at the end they got what they were looking for. Which brings me to the end—a little too pat, with the final chapters being among the shortest and most summarized of the entire book. There was little opportunity for the reader to 'sit with' and truly feel the characters' (Benny, Byron and Marble specifically) new revelations and realities. It was almost like, "and they lived happily ever after."

Having said all that, I did enjoy this book immensely and especially appreciate and respect that the author took the bold step of telling this story in the way that she told it—without regard for some of the predictable criticisms about her ignoring traditional literary conventions. It's a new day in literature, and I for one welcome all the new voices, like this one. Looking forward to more from Charmaine Wilkerson.

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I struggled with all the trauma in Black Cake. There was so much. The book was well written but I had to stop at multiple times to pause and process the pain everyone was enduring or had endured.

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This is a multilayered plot of family secrets.

Byron and Benny are called by their mother's lawyer after her death to go through her will the way she wanted it done. There are a lot of stories to get them to the end and they learn some startling family secrets in those stories.

This is a book about healing family relationships after the death of a loved one. There are a lot of big feelings and a lot of guilt processing in this book while the story unfolds.

There are many heavy topics that are touched on that may make this a difficult read for some people. It is very well written and engages the reader through the entire book.

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This was such an interesting story! I really enjoyed the unique plot and the characters. I look forward to the author’s next work!

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First off, this has to be one of my favorite covers of all-time! So beautiful! This book had a lot of interesting threads, but the execution was a little bit lacking for me.

The story follows siblings, Byron and Benny, who reunite after an estrangement when their mother passes away. Their mother leaves them a recording unveiling many family secrets. The story is told in flashbacks to when the mother was young and with the backgrounds of the two siblings. I loved the setting of the Caribbean and the many unique characters. However, there were elements of the writing that left me a little confused. The jumping between time periods is rather disjointed (especially when Byron or Benny are recounting some of their adult lives). It was hard for me to keep track of when certain events occurred. There are also a ton of characters to keep track of and some of the names were way too similar (Benny vs Bunny, etc.). I also had an issue with the lack of suspense - every single reveal was pretty obvious to me.

All that being said, Wilkerson was able to create characters that I truly fell in love with and was rooting for (especially the mother). Because this is her debut novel, I think she could write some truly great pieces down the line. Her imagery and the connection between generations with the black cake recipe was lovely. Although this wasn't a surefire hit for me, I would still look out for future works from her, and I'll be checking out the series that just came out on Hulu.

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Lots to think about in this book, and some interesting twists. Great beginning that I went back to at the end; it was probably not what you initially thought! I listened to the audio, which was very well done. (It was returned to the library once, so I had to wait to get it back to finish.)
At times, introducing a new character without revealing the connection for a bit got to be a bit much. I have to admit, I did fall asleep when the story of Marble began and tried to backtrack. Did we find out how Covey found her?
I also felt that the story of Mathilda was wrapped up too abruptly, and had more questions.
The premise of the audio to bring siblings together and tell the story was a very good one!

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What are the ingredients needed for a good book? Author Charmaine Wilkerson's Black Cake was part complex characters mixed in with half a cup of intrigue and a sprinkle of social commentary and topped with a touch of historical context.

While the book started off a little slow, it ratcheted up and up and up with each plot twist. Each time I wondered what would be revealed next. There were times I was left utterly confused by how many characters changed their names but that didn't stop me following down the rabbit hole. I continued on until Byron and Benny found some semblance of peace, not in knowing who their mother was but what she endured and what she legacy she left behind.

Storytelling is an art and Charmaine is an artist!

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Unique! I loved the setting and learning about the culture. I did feel the story slowed down in the middle but it still fascinated me in so many ways. The characters and their interactions with each other and their growth, just made the whole book.

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What a beautiful sweeping historical story, full of heart, memory, identity, connection, and redemption. I loved the alternating chapters, the slow unraveling of the truth, and the beautiful portrayals of Jamaican culture and setting.

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I have had Black Cake on my TBR for a while, but the new series on Hulu pushed me to read before I watch, and I'm now firmly putting Black Cake in the why-did-I-wait-so-long category. There are books that I read for the pure entertainment value, the ability to get lost in the drama of it all, and then there are true pieces of art like Black Cake. Charmaine Wilkerson managed to take me from the islands of the Caribbean to England and then to southern California as we followed Covey through life. Her strength and perseverance shines through in every page.

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A long kept secret revealed after the death of their mother, new family found, and a cherished recipe passed through generations! I loved the varying perspectives of this story, making sure we got all the views of the things happening in the pages! It really goes to show that sometimes... you really have no idea about a person, even those closest to you!

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