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Black Cake (2022)

Tekijä: Charmaine Wilkerson

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1,3176814,374 (3.98)27
"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"--… (lisätietoja)
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 68) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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 |
This is a multigenerational dual timeline story set in present day California and a Caribbean island in the 1960s. The author herself grew up in Jamaica and her parents were born there and this is presumably the context the book is based on, but this is never explicitly stated.

The story begins with estranged siblings Benny and Byron coming together for the reading of their mother Eleanor’s will. They discover she has left them a traditional black cake and an 8 hour audio recording about her life.

The story then takes us back to the 1960s when a young Coventina Lyncook (Covey) is growing up on a Caribbean island with her Chinese father, mourning the loss of her islander mother, who left when his drinking and gambling became too much. Covey throws her energy into ocean swimming and her secret romance with Gibbs. She feels happy despite the challenges, until her father decides to improve his fortunes by marrying her off to a powerful, older man. When a death on the island leaves Covey under suspicion of murder, her world comes crashing down around her.

What follows is a story about secrets, relationships, and the connections created by cooking. The sweetness of the black cake recipe from the islands permeates the book, and creates an atmosphere of its own.

For me personally I found a few things irritating. Firstly as I am currently doing a read around the world challenge, I find it annoying that the author cannot even name the island Covey and Gibb came from, rather it is glossed over in an amorphous stroke as the Caribbean. Maybe this is meant to convey the impression that many islands in the Caribbean suffered a similar colonial history, but by not giving the island its own distinct history and culture this feels like another broad stroke of colonialism, putting different people groups together in one amorphous category without any effort to see their uniqueness.

My other problem was with Byron. I found him to be just a walking issue advertisement with no personality or function in the story other than as a billboard for any subject the author wanted to address. There is also that tendency of debut authors to need to cover all the issues in one book. If you cut Byron out of the story it actually would make very little narrative difference, and in fact Bunny the swimmer was a more appealing vehicle to bring attention to the state of our oceans. His sister Bunny at least has some personality and has an important role in the book with her story of rejection and heartache, even though she often comes across as immature, petulant and selfish.

Overall I enjoyed this book, in particular for its island setting, smell of cooking and unraveling of secrets. 3.5 stars for me. ( )
  mimbza | Apr 8, 2024 |
A superbly written book.

Black Cake is the center of this book that revolves around Covey, a young girl turned runaway bride from a Caribbean island. She is forced to marry ‘Little Man,’ a gangaster-type after her father runs up debt with no other way to pay. Through a twist of circumstances, Little Man dies at the reception and Covey flees and ends up in the UK under a new last name. Another tragedy strikes when Covey and her friend, Ellie are in a train crash and Covey again, takes on a new identity.

The story switches from Covey’s backstory to Covey’s current life which includes her children. Upon Covey’s death, her children will learn their entire life has been built on lies - but are all lies bad?

Because the writing was excellent it helped me work through the weeds when the narrative got a little drawn out, causing the pacing to slow a bit. That being said, there wasn’t a time when I wished I weren’t reading this book with its beautifully, descriptive prose.

I will look for another one of Charmaine Wilkerson’s works in time as this was her extremely successful debut. ( )
  LyndaWolters1 | Apr 3, 2024 |
Great listen. Covey and Bunny, two island girls who swim and surf the rough waters off the islands with dreams of competing find their life and friendship tested as Covey's father arranges her to marry "little man" the local loan shark to cover his gambling debts - When "little man" dies during the wedding reception all eyes fall on Covey who, flees the wedding and heads for the sea leaving her wedding dress and shoes on the beach. After fleeing the islands and with the help of friends she immigrates to England. . Back home they all believe she couldn't survive the sea, and assumed that after poisoning "little man" she herself drown in the sea. 40 years later, 2 estranged siblings sit down with their deceased mother, Ellie's attorney for the reading of the will. They are required to listen to an audio prepared by their mother who tells them the story of a lost sister and the young girl Covey from the islands. The siblings journey begins as they unravel everything they thought they knew of their lives as they learn their mother's secrets. ( )
  booklovers2 | Mar 6, 2024 |
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. ( )
  marquis784 | Feb 29, 2024 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 68) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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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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