Cherie Jones How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House


Code 9781472268792
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Women's Prize for Fiction 2021.

In Baxter's Beach, Barbados, Lala's grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers. For Wilma, it's the story of a wilful adventurer, who ignores the warnings of those around her, and suffers as a result. When Lala grows up, she sees it offers hope - of life after losing a baby in the most terrible of circumstances and marrying the wrong man.

And Mira Whalen? It's about keeping alive, trying to make sense of the fact that her husband has been murdered, and she didn't get the chance to tell him that she loved him after all.

How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is the powerful, intense story of three marriages, and of a beautiful island paradise where, beyond the white sand beaches and the wealthy tourists, lies poverty, menacing violence and the story of the sacrifices some women make to survive.

About the Author

Cherie Jones is a lawyer based in Barbados. She won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 1999. She then studied Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam in 2015, where she won both the Archie Markham Award and the A.M. Heath Prize. In 2015 she was also awarded a full fellowship from the Vermont Studio Centre. A collection of inter-connected stories set in a different small community in Barbados won the third prize in the Frank Collymore Endowment Awards in 2016.

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'A crime-riddled literary novel, Jones's atmospheric debut has a multiracial, multigenerational cast who are brilliantly and even-handedly portrayed'
- Sunday Times

'Jones's forensic prose reveals a society riven by hardship, betrayal and inequality... A novel of great elegance and verve - hard to believe it's a debut'
- Maggie O'Farrell, Daily Mail

'Intensely compelling...You are ensnared in a web with these characters and their trauma; their claustrophobia becomes your own. It's a startling achievement. There is very little light in this novel, but what shines through instead is a pitiless truth that stays with you long after the story ends'
- Guardian

'One of Jones's many gifts is the ability to show us flawed human beings with their humanity fully intact, to call us to examine the terrible beast within ourselves... Jones balances the novel's graphic violence with prose that is both evocative and wistful, haunting. Generational trauma is braided through with grief in the same over-under-over-under way that Lala cornrows the hair of her white customers. For these tourists, Paradise is an escape from their reality; for Lala and the locals, Paradise is the reality they long to escape. One where secrets shroud truth and darkness steals not just arms, but entire souls'
- New York Times


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