Black Cake

by Charmaine Wilkerson
Fiction: Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson  #fiction, #reading, #bookstoread, #books,

Discussion Questions

1. In Black Cake, Eleanor Bennett leaves behind a voice recording for her children, disclosing the story of her life. What was the most surprising part of her past for you? The saddest? The most interesting?

2. Secrets are a huge part of the novel. Why do you think Eleanor kept her story from her children for so long and only shared it posthumously? What do you think is more complicated: the secrets you keep or the secrets you share?

3. Eleanor wanted Mr. Mitch, Benny, and Byron to listen to the voice message she left behind when all together. Why do you think she specifically made this request? What would have been different if Benny and Byron had listened to everything separately?

4. What was your favorite part of the story? Favorite location and time period? The character who interested you the most?

5. Black cake was a Bennett family recipe, made for weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, and other special occasions. Do you have a traditional family recipe? What does it mean to you?

6. Benny recalls her first memory of Byron: "They are sitting on the couch, she is settled under her brother's arm, and Byron is reciting adventure stories to her from a book. His feet can already touch the floor." Discuss Benny and Byron's relationship. Why was it complicated? How had they grown apart after being so close? If you have siblings, did you understand the push and pull of this relationship?

7. Bert and Eleanor told Benny they "made sacrifices so that [she] could have the 'best'" the best being a prestigious education and a secure profession and love life. In short, Benny felt "the best" was what they envisioned for her rather than what she wanted for herself. Why do you think Bert and Eleanor disagreed with Benny's life choices? Do you think they were wrong to be so hard on her? Why or why not?

8. Eleanor didn't tell Bert about her firstborn daughter out of fear of what he might think, just as Benny was afraid to disclose details of her sexuality. Do you find this fear to be reasonable given all the love Benny and Eleanor receive from their family? Why or why not? How do you think Bert would have responded if Eleanor had told him the truth?

9. "The thing about identity. There's your family history, there's how you see yourself, then there's what others see in you." Do you find this statement to be true for the characters in the novel? Discuss.

10 Having come from China as a young boy, Johnny "Lin" Lyncook was still seen as a foreigner to many from the Islands, "even after he'd gone to school in the same town, run a business here, taken a wife here, and raised a child here." Why do you think that is? Did Lin not fit in because of his debts or would he always be an outsider, no matter how integrated into the community he became?

11. When Bert was too stubborn to apologize to Benny, Eleanor stayed by his side out of loyalty. Do you think she made the right decision? Why or why not?

12.After Bert's death, Eleanor has another chance at love. After the sweeping love story that brought Bert and Eleanor back together again, do you find it surprising that she dated someone else after his death? Why or why not?

13.Eleanor's greatest passion growing up was swimming, But, as life got in the way, she was forced to let it go. If she'd never run away, do you think Eleanor would have had a career similar to that of Etta Pringle? Were there regrets for giving up her passion, or do you find that she received greater ones in return?

14.Do you think Covey knew about Bunny's feelings for her? Were you surprised?

15.Forgiveness is a major theme: Eleanor struggles to forgive herself, Marble to forgive her parents, Benny to forgive her family, Byron to forgive Lin. Do you find any of the characters' actions in the book to be unforgivable? Why or why not?

Discussion Questions by Publisher

PBRHome- for bookish gifts

Recent Book Reviews

Book Review -  Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl by Renee Rosen

Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl

By Renee Rosen
This book is a must-read for anyone who's interested in the fashion world or enjoys reading stories about female friendships. It follows the journey of Gloria and Estee Lauder, two women who share their dreams of working in ...More

 Book Review - The Spectacular by Fiona Davis

The Spectacular

By Fiona Davis
It's 1956, and Marion, a passionate dancer and dance teacher, is thrilled when she has the opportunity to be a Radio City Rockette. But there is a cost; she must sacrifice her family to follow her dream ... More
Book Review -  The Violin Conspiracy by Brian Slocumb

The Violin Conspiracy

By Brendan Slocumb
This book grabbed my attention from the very beginning, with the opening playing beautiful classical music. A few times throughout the book, there are additional snippets of music. It's one of the bonuses of listening to a book on audio ...More

 Book Review - Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Local Woman Missing

By Mary Kubica
Local Woman Missing is a gripping psychological thriller by Mary Kubica, filled with suspense, mystery, and secrets. I loved how this book grabbed from the first chapter and had me on the edge of my seat... More

Visit Our Blog

You May Also Like

PBR book reviews and Reading guides for book clubs
Visit out Etsy Shop
10 Books I Can't Stop Recommending