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Black Cake (2022)

af Charmaine Wilkerson

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,4177313,358 (3.96)31
"In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother's death and her hidden past--a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California and ends with her famous black cake. In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett's death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean 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 journey 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 family, 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"--… (mere)
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Upon the death of Eleanor Bennett, her children Byron and Benedetta ("Benny") are left with an audio recording from their mother, telling a life story of secrets that neither of them had any previous knowledge of. As they try to come to terms with these newfound revelations, they also each must come to terms with their own life's demons, trying to repair a relationship that has deteriorated over the years.

Despite its short chapters, it took me almost four months to finish this novel, and I'm not sure why. There was something about it that felt slightly disjointed. At its heart, it was a good story, but I feel like the author tried to put too much in, almost to the point of forcing it, making it feel unnecessary and cumbersome, which bogged this down somewhat. While these side topics are certainly relevant, they didn't quite "flow" seamlessly within the main undercurrent of this story. The ending, too, felt forced and though I knew I was getting close to the end, the very last chapter was abrupt and took me by surprise, not expecting to turn the page and realize I had finished the book. I did not dislike this book and it was fairly decent as a debut, but I do think it could have been more polished. I'm currently 3 episodes into the series adaptation on Hulu, which seems to be true to the book and which I'm enjoying thus far. ( )
  indygo88 | Jul 10, 2024 |
I read about 75 books a year, most of which are nonfiction. When I do decide to read a novel, I usually try to make sure it’s a really good piece of literature. I gave this book 3/5 stars mainly because I found it pretty hard to follow. Some of this is on me because every so often, usually when the weather is nice as it is now, I read in fits and starts—a few pages with my morning coffee, a few more while my wife has a movie going, and a few more lying in bed before going to sleep. This isn’t the best way to read a complicated plot, one that is challenging to follow as it is. And this is the way I would characterize “Black Cake.” There are many characters, some related, that span more than one generation. Wilkerson shifts timelines often during the telling of the story, and sometimes I just wasn’t paying close enough attention to follow coherently. My guess is readers who read majority fiction and read in fewer sittings than I did for more time with each sitting, probably found the plot easier to follow than I did. So, I guess my point is, my 3/5 star review is my review for my reading experience. Others have rated the book much higher. ( )
  FormerEnglishTeacher | Jun 9, 2024 |
I really enjoyed this book. I love how it would switch between characters to give different perspectives.
Byron and Benny are brother and sister, but have been estranged for the past couple of years. They reunited upon their mother's death, where her lawyer tells them of her final wishes. She has recorded her message to them, instructing that they listen to it together. The story she tells, leaves them reeling, wondering who was their mother and who are they. As Eleanor tells her story, the story flashes back to times when she is younger, or others who were important to her tell their story. The story that unfolds shows Eleanor's struggles, her successes and the one common link to her past, her recipe for Black Cake and it's important place in her life. ( )
  cjyap1 | May 27, 2024 |
This is a really intriguing story.. I was hooked very easily. I loved the multiple POVs.

Am I the only one who thinks that maybe the black cake means more than what it is? Anyway I don’t know what it could be but I really want me some black cake. The actual one! ( )
  Donnela | Apr 30, 2024 |
Although the story was thought provoking. The writing was more of "tell" rather than "show". It therefore included mostly stream of consciousness rather than action or dialog.

Also, it felt preachy at times...as it included so many social issues.(including but not limited to racial prejudice, familial estrangement, sexual and racial identity, class struggle, immigrant prejudices, gambling addiction, grief, adoption, murder, colonialism, friendship, domestic abuse, as well food diaspora!) Some were pertinent to the plot while others were not.
This took away from the essential themes: the effects of secrets on families, estrangement, forgiveness. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
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"In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother's death and her hidden past--a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California and ends with her famous black cake. In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett's death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a traditional Caribbean 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 journey 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 family, 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"--

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