BOOK REVIEW: Barbados may be paradise for some, but not for others
‘How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps her House’ is a visceral novel of love, patriarchy and self-determination
Women and girls have been told how to behave since the stone age. In How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps her House, the debut novel by Barbadian lawyer Cherie Jones, the titular “one-armed sister” is drawn from a cautionary folk tale.
A village vicar had two beautiful daughters, but only one was gifted with good sense; “the other one was own-way and like to give the mother mouth”. The girls were warned to stay away from a dark tunnel where only bad men go. The “slack-from-she-born, force-ripe sister” decides she must explore the tunnel to see where it leads; the monster in the tunnel takes her arm and she is left with an unsightly stump to remind her of the price of wickedness. The Barbadian morality tale lies at the heart of this visceral, unflinching novel that questions how a woman can make a life for herself when her body is constantly under siege...