Black Cake – Book Review

Title:- Black Cake

Author:- Charmaine Wilkerson

Date published:- February 1st 2022

No. of pages:- 385 pages

Genre:- Literary/Family Saga


Plot:- 5/5

Writing:- 5/5

Overall rating:- 5/5

We can’t choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?
In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage and themselves.

Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?

Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.

This is one of the most hyped books and since this book is soon going to be turned into TV series, I have always wanted to read the book. And when finally I got my hands on the book, I was super duper excited to read this one.

I have to say, this was one of the most beautifully written stories I have ever read.

The story starts with two siblings, Byron and Benny who are estranged. They are in California and when they realize their mother had left a will–audio and a black cake, a traditional Caribbean dessert, made with traditional ingredients. As the siblings listened to Eleanor Bennet’s audio, they realize that both their parents have been hiding a very deep secret…with Eleanor starting with the fact that they both have a sister.

The story divides between the present and past set in various different countries and continents–the past starting with the Caribbean and England and the present set in California, England, and Italy. The story mainly talks about loyalty between friends, racism, domestic abuse, sexuality, rape, cultural difference, and above all the complicated relationships between family members. I do like how the book is set in different topics–surfing, oceanography, swimming, cooking, arts…all blended in together. The chapters were short and sweet and so it was quick read as well in my opinion. I do like all the characters, despite the fact that all the characters, particularly, Benny and Byron are very much complicated struggling with their own struggles.

Oh, the way the black cake was made, I really wish I could have a slice of that black cake 🙂

So if you like books about

*Oceanograph, swimming and surfing

*About cooking with different ingreadients around the world and descriptions and details about them

*About realistic racism and sexual abuse

Then this book is one for you. Highly recommend this book for anyone who hasnt read this yet. Worth five stars.

Charmaine Wilkerson is an American writer who has lived in the Caribbean and is based in Italy. She is a former journalist and recovered marathon runner whose award-winning short stories can be found in various UK and US anthologies and magazines. Black Cake (2022) will be her first novel.

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