Black Cake: A Novel by Charmaine Wilkerson
February here in Canada means freezing temperatures and countless snowstorms, but Charmaine Wilkerson’s Black Cake was the sweet relief I needed from the winter gloom.
The novel follows siblings Benny and Byron Bennett who, after the death of their mother Eleanor, inherit a single Caribbean black cake and voice recording; detailing shocking secrets as told by Mrs. Bennett before she passed.
Eleanor weaves the mysterious tale of Coventina “Covey” Lyncook, her father Johnny Lyncook, her best friend Bunny, and the love of her life Gibbs Grant.
Set in a scenic Caribbean island, London, New York, California, and even Italy, readers are in for a wild trip around the globe to uncover the mystery of Eleanor Bennet and Covey Lyncook.
Though the suspense element is what led me to buy Black Cake, it was ultimately the drama that got me hooked; the story is non-linear and told from multiple POVs, so readers get all perspectives and all the tea.
From Benny to Byron, Bunny to Johnny, and even the late Eleanor Bennet, you get it all; and, become quite attached to the beautifully written characters and their prospective stories in the process.
I also found myself quite swept up by the tear-jerking love stories in the novel- which is unusual because my go-to is a good thriller.
However, it was impossible not to be caught up in the story of Covey and Gibbs (a right-person, wrong-time trope that’ll tug on your heartstrings), the many secondary love stories weaved in throughout the story, and of course, the love Covey and Eleanor have for their island.
It is evident in her strong imagery and beautiful narration, the love Wilkerson has for the Caribbean; in her glowing descriptions of the scenery, the people, and of course, the food.
The Island is definitely a character of her own, while also serving as the perfect escape for readers anxious for the summer months.
Overall, this novel has everything Sistah Girls – family drama, romance, an unsolved mystery, and spot-on political commentary; all while touching upon important themes of grief, loss, family conflict, and redemption.
And, of course, lots and lots of mouth-watering talk of Caribbean food- which was the cherry on top of this delectable novel for a foodie such as myself.
The book also features a book club guide, which includes a cute playlist inspired by the events of the novel (think Rhianna, Ella Fitzgerald, Mary J. Blige), and of course, the recipe for Eleanor’s titular black cake.
Wilkerson’s debut is a must-read, especially ahead of the upcoming Hulu adaptation.