How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps her House by Cherie Jones

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps her House a tale told Lala’s grandmother, Wilma, early in the novel. It is a tale of two sisters. One ‘good’, one ‘bad’, and the consequences that result for the choices they make, when they develop a taste for the things that they should not have. The tale sits uncomfortably with the reader as Lala’s story starts to unfurl. Set in Barbados, predominantly in the 1980s, Lala’s journey is one taken amongst violence, incest, misogyny. A fracturing marriage, the death of a baby, a robbery and the bleak realities of living with extreme poverty in a place that would otherwise be called a paradise. Even blissful beaches, dappled ocean waters and bright sunshine can become hell for some.

Despite the bleakness of the issues which the author wrestles with, this is a stunning book, beautifully told, written with exquisite empathy for all that Lala must endure. Lala’s struggles reached my heart, this young woman who is trying to find something out of her life following a tragedy that seemed almost as inevitable as her husband’s violence against her.

One of the joys of this book was the quietly muted ending, as everything settled after all the shockwaves had crashed down upon the reader. Lala’s voice was strong, hope somehow finding a way to shine through. I finished this book in just a few days, so compelling was the narrative, so real were the depictions of Lala and Mira. This is the third of the Women’s Prize shortlisted novels that I have read. This one is, so far, my clear winner.

View all my reviews

Published by Deborah Siddoway

Dickens enthusiast, book lover, wine drinker, writer, lover of all things Victorian, and happily divorced mother of two lovely (and very tall) boys.

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