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Summary and Review: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

In Part I, Byron and Benny Bennett are two estranged adult siblings who reunite at their mother

Their father, Bert Bennett, died a few years after that before Benny could reconcile with them

Benny attended the funeral, but didn't say anything to Byron or her mother

As they listen to the recording, Eleanor launches into the story of Covey, a girl growing up

Covey's mother Mathilda ran a bakery with the assistance of her mother's helper, Pearl

However, Lin was also a gambler, a habit that damaged the family's finances and eventually drove Mathilda

When Covey turns 16, she meets Gibbs Grant, a surfer, and falls in love with him

The two are inseparable and make plans to leave the islands together someday

Lin's financial troubles prompt him to borrow from "Little Man" Henry, an unsavory loan shark who is

Gibbs is leaving to go to school in London and tries to convince Covey to sneak away

When the wedding day arrives, Pearl poisons the top layer of cake (which the couple brings home)

But during the toasts, Little Man chokes and dies, and Covey disappears

By fall of 1965, Covey is living in London under the name Coventina Brown and working as a

In the recording, Eleanor mother reaffirms that she is Covey and that the story she'd told them

Interspersed with Eleanor's explanation of her past, in present day, Benny reflects upon her life path

In their family, she and Byron were expected to be high-achieving to garner influence and professional opportunities

Joanie later broke up with her and moved to New York, and Benny followed Joanie to New

Benny now hopes to open up an art cafe (cafe that also sells art) someday, but her

We also learn that Byron has an ex, Lynette, who has recently broken up with him

Also, while Byron is successful, he doesn't feel entirely fulfilled by his work since he's more of

In Part II, Eleanor continues the recording with the story of Eleanor "Elly" Douglas

Elly convinces Covey to leave London with her so they can pursue other dreams (Elly hopes to

When someone assumes that Covey is the one who died, Covey doesn't correct them, knowing that it's

Instead, Covey takes on Elly's identity, going by Eleanor Douglas

Bunny is saddened to hear of the death, since she'd been a little in love with Covey

Bunny ended up moving to England to continue her career as a distance swimmer along with Patsy

As "Eleanor Douglas", Covey moves to Scotland and takes a job doing office work

She takes refuge in a shelter run by nuns, but they eventually force her to adopt out

Gibbs decides to give up his own past and changes his name to Bert Bennett so they

(Flashbacks reveal that Eleanor had been upset over the absence of her first daughter

Unfortunately, Bert had died unexpectedly and was never able to reconcile with his daughter

A different flashback discusses how in February 2018 (a year or so before Eleanor's death), she had gone

At the talk, Eleanor had discreetly told Etta that she goes by "Eleanor Bennett" now and lives

She is an "ethno-food guru" who has recently published a book on traditional food and how the "

" Today, she is appearing on a television show and she talks about black cake and its origins

Black cake originated as a Christmastime fruit cake in Britain, but transformed into a rum cake when

They never told Marble about the adoption, but she is slightly darker skinned than them and she

Meanwhile, back in California, Benny thinks about how she didn't go talk to Byron and her mother

While they think she didn't show up, she actually did show up, but Steve is physically abusive

Benny had wanted to talk to them, but didn't want them to notice her injuries

In present day, Byron also gets back in touch with his ex, Lynette, (He attends a vigil

Byron thinks about it and realizes that he has never been good at showing the people he

A short while later, Marble makes her way to California to meet Benny and Byron

It goes smoothly until Marble learns about her father (who assaulted Eleanor), and she leaves without saying

When the three siblings are reunited once again, together they finally eat some of the frozen black

The trinkets turn out to be valuable old coins (a flashback reveals that they were stolen by

Together, the siblings decide that it's time to go back to the island and find out what

She recognizes who they are because Marble looks like a fair-skinned version of Covey and the other

They also go to see Eleanor/Covey's father Lin, but the meeting is brief since Byron gets

Lin has a stroke as a result of the meeting, but he survives

After all these events, Byron is inspired to take control of his life and to be a

He also sues his employer who he believes had unfairly promoted a less-qualified white man over him

Benny also stops responding to Steve's calls and she flirts with a different man -- while she

The book hints that on the wedding day, Bunny had stolen the poison bottle that Pearl used

The book ends with the three siblings scattering the mixed ashes of Covey and Gibbs into the

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