Jones’s intense debut explores the poverty and crime in Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, amid an explosive collision between tourists and locals. The place, called Paradise by foreigners and residents alike, turns out to be a living hell for two women whose lives are changed by one horrific incident. Lala, a local hair braider, is stuck in a turbulent marriage to Adan, a burglar. Mira Whalen, a former local who now lives in London, is vacationing with her English husband, Peter, at their beachfront villa. One night, Lala is on the beach, in labor and about to give birth. Adan, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found. Lala stumbles upon the Whalens’ mansion and presses the buzzer for help. She hears a gunshot and Adan rushes out, an ear-piercing shriek following on his heels. A parallel narrative follows Mira dealing with the aftermath of Peter’s murder by Adan, while a detective works the case, and more violence ensues as Lala and Mira’s lives eventually collide. Rich characters and pulsing backstories add a great deal of flavor to the drama. Jones is off to a strong start. Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander (Jan.)
This book is heavy. And yet through debut novelist Cherie Jones’ poetic sensibility, it radiates a kind of breathtaking light, too . . . tough if luminous . . . through playful prose [she] invites the reader in. She never lets us lose sight of the heart—beating, wounded, alive—of tragic heroes.”David Canfield, Entertainment Weekly
“Dazzling . . . in Jones’s capable hands, tension builds without diversion. The storytelling is far from breathless, but it will leave you that way: The effect is of a horrific opera in which ugliness is inevitable, but no less gutting when it appears. And in this opera, there are no minor characters. Each one, carefully and vividly crafted, has a crucial part to play.” Deesha Philyaw, New York Times Book Review
“Stunning . . . The novel pulses with brutality and runs high with emotions, offering a searing and unforgettable portrait of generational trauma, a colonialist past, and a capitalist present."Refinery 29
“This transporting novel set in Barbados reveals the way even the most disparate lives are interconnected. It delves into wealth and class, love and crime — and the emotional turmoil that roils in a rapidly gentrifying area and the people who live there.”Good Housekeeping
"The novel’s a stunner . . . Jones’s evocation of Barbados is exquisite, her brushwork assured, as she portrays pink sands and gated villas, decrepit hospitals and 24-hour convenience stores. . . . Jones’s prose is supple, often luxuriant, but the structure of her novel is even more impressive as she bobs and weaves through the aftermath of two mysterious crimes. The pieces snap together, one by one, exposing the consequences of dreams deferred. Here’s the launch of a stellar literary career."Hamilton Cain, Washington Post
“Harrowing . . . A compelling […] story of lives defined by trauma generation after generation.”Kirkus Reviews
“Intense . . . Rich characters and pulsing backstories add a great deal of flavor to the drama. Jones is off to a strong start.”Publishers Weekly
“The haves and have-nots clash in Jones’s searing debut. In affluent Baxter Beach, the gentry of Barbados maneuver around their servants with velvet gloves and steel nerves, exposing fault lines of resentment, love as ephemeral as a tropical breeze.”O Magazine
“A hard-hitting and unflinching novel from a bold new writer who tackles head-on the brutal extremes of patriarchal abuse.”Bernardine Evaristo, author of Girl, Woman, Other
“This book unfolds around the reader like ripples in water, it offers an unflinching vision of what it means to have a body and to fight to protect that body, it demands attention. These are characters voices I will be hearing for a long time and a book I will be recommending to everyone.”Daisy Johnson, author of Sisters
“Cherie Jones’ How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is an intricately plotted allegory that explores the consequences of believing that you know better than the women who made you and charts the inheritance of trauma that is all too common in Caribbean women's lives. With rare compassion and deft storytelling, Jones renders a narrative that is haunting and unforgettable.”Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill
“A gripping thriller, a symphony of voices, and a novel of deep empathy.”Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
“Here is a bright new star. Cherie Jones has talent abounding, drawing us with skill, delicacy and glorious style into a vortex of Bajan lives on the edge, clashing across class and color divides. This is one of the strongest, most assured and heart-wrenching debuts I have ever read.”Diana Evans, author of Ordinary People and winner of the Orange Award for New Writers
"How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is simply brilliant. By the first chapter, it burned into my heart. Ambitious, poetic, and layered with the rich voices of its many stunning characters, this terrific debut novel by Cherie Jones opened my eyes to the many ways that her young Barbadian protagonist must fight for her life."Lawrence Hill, author of The Illegal and The Book of Negroes
“Cherie Jones's novel examines the calamities that occur when need and greed collide. Married couple Lala and Adan live on the beach in Barbados, and Adan has a plan: He's going to rob one of the Baxter Beach mansions. But when it all goes terribly wrong, everyone must reckon with the realities of the resort town they call home.”Elle.com
“Welcome to Barbados, where wealth, class, love, crime and the lives of four characters merge in this seemingly picture-perfect paradise.”Parade Magazine
"A plot driven by page-turning crime is balanced with subtle character studies . . . just as thrilling as it is poignant."Marie Claire
"This intense debut thriller speaks volumes about domestic violence, class struggle, loss and the legacy of trauma."Ms. Magazine
“It's a book of many things: of the limits of romantic and familial love; of intergenerational legacy, certainly; but more than anything else it is a book about the devastating reach of patriarchy on the most vulnerable members of society. . . . if you are looking for a story that explores power, bondage and freedom in the context of a small Caribbean community, How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House has many revelations.”Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Swap out SPF for this haunting novel….The women’s lives cross and the fallout gives a devastating new meaning to pink sands and paradise.”The Skimm
One-Armed Sister is simply brilliant. By the first chapter, it burned into my heart. Ambitious, poetic, and layered with the rich voices of its many stunning characters, this terrific début novel by Cherie Jones opened my eyes to the many ways that her young Barbadian protagonist must fight for her life. One-Armed Sister will stay with me, and will seduce readers for decades.
This book unfolds around the reader like ripples in water, it offers an unflinching vision of what it means to have a body and to fight to protect that body, it demands attention. These are characters’ voices I will be hearing for a long time and a book I will be recommending to everyone.
A hard-hitting and unflinching novel from a bold new writer who tackles head-on the brutal extremes of patriarchal abuse.”
Cherie Jones’ How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is an intricately plotted allegory that explores the consequences of believing that you know better than the women who made you and charts the inheritance of trauma that is all too common in Caribbean women's lives. With rare compassion and deft storytelling, Jones renders a narrative that is haunting and unforgettable.”
A gripping thriller, a symphony of voices and a novel of deep empathy
"Here is a bright new star. Cherie Jones has talent abounding, drawing us with skill, delicacy and glorious style into a vortex of Bajan lives on the edge, clashing across class and colour divides. This is one of the strongest, most assured and heart-wrenching debuts I have ever read."
A Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner, practicing lawyer Jones dreams up a debut novel set in sparkling Baxter Beach, Barbados, where a botched robbery by charming smalltime criminal Adan reveals tensions between wealthy ex-pats and the locals who serve them. Among the characters: a mother who has lost her baby, a woman living unsteadily between the two worlds, and two men who risk everything to find a better life.
The only people enjoying themselves in Paradise are the tourists—at least the ones who haven't been murdered.
Barbadian author Jones' harrowing debut is set on a fictional strip of Caribbean shore called Baxter's Beach in the town of Paradise. It opens with a fable told by Wilma to her 13-year-old granddaughter, Lala, about the nasty fate of a girl who didn't listen. "Curiosity kill the cat, says Wilma, don't make yourself stupid like the one-arm sister." This gambit backfires—when we next see Lala, she's 18, very pregnant, in horrible pain, and bleeding "blurry poinsettia flowers everywhere" in a rickety beach shack. She stumbles to the nearest neighboring house, a fancy villa, presses the doorbell, and hears gunshots inside. She has interrupted her baby's father, Adan, midrobbery, and he's had to shoot his victim. It’s the man’s own fault, says Adan. And Lala’s fault what he does to her, what will happen to their baby, to their friend Tone—yet he's the one who has been torturing animals since he was a boy. In fact, Adan is one of the most repellent and unredeemed villains we have encountered in quite some time. Lala has pretty much figured it out—"Maybe it is time to accept that this man is not the laughing giant you meet riding a unicycle at a fair two summers ago"—but still cannot escape him. He won't let her work—she's a braider on the beach, a job she loves—and has stolen what little money she has. The novel moves among the perspectives of several characters, including Mira Whalen, the widow of the murdered man. Mira is a former prostitute whose tourist client left his wife for her; Adan's crime severs her from the amazing life she lucked into, with homes in England and here on the beach, with sweet stepchildren, friends, and travel, and the only conjugal love and happiness evoked in the entire novel.
A compelling and terribly sad story of lives defined by trauma generation after generation.