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?
Spanning sixty years in the life of one family crossing continents and juggling lives, Black Cake is an extraordinary story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape a family for generations.
Firstly thanks, to Ella Watkins for the proof copy of Black Cake and for inviting me to be involved in the blog tour which is kicking off today!
This is an absolutely superb debut novel by Charmaine Wilkerson and I am confident in saying, this early in the year that Black Cake will be one of my favourites books of 2022.
Written in short, sharp chapters the story begins with the death of Eleanor Bennett, looking back on her rich life via a recording played to her children posthumously. For Benny and Byron the recording holds many surprises as they learn their parents history. Taking the reader on a captivating journey from the Caribbean, across the Atlantic to England and on to America, exploring race, identity and gender, family and friendship, sexuality and acceptance and the things that tie us to our culture and our family. The Caribbean Black Cake is central to the story as something special and at the heart of this family, when there is so much else that separates and divides.
This story is beautifully written in a non linear way as Eleanor shares her lifestory with her children, new characters are introduced and then seamlessly woven into the story. Some very special characters and relationships hooked me in, not least the character of Eleanor as we learnt about her childhood, youth and adulthood. Shying away from nothing the experiences of black women are touched upon as is casual racism generally.
The writing is unique and I liked the way the characters were used to voice concerns about modern society and I was pleased with the way human impact on the environment was addressed.
An original, engaging and moving read that had me invested from start to finish, a rich family drama, authentic in its execution. Highly recommended to absolutely everyone!
This is a blog tour so please do check out what others are saying about Black Cake which publishes Thursday 3rd February 22.
About the Author
Charmaine Wilkerson is an American writer who has lived in Jamaica and is based in Italy. A graduate of Barnard College and Stanford University, she is a former journalist whose award-winning short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Black Cake is her first novel.