Reviews for The cherry robbers

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

When girls grow up in a house that resembles a wedding cake, it would seem as certain that the man of their dreams is destined to come along to whisk them to a life of romance and roses. For the six Chapel girls, however, born to a firearms fortune, fate has a more gruesome outcome in store. As the eldest, Aster is the first to marry and the first to die on her wedding night. It’s a fate forecast by their mother, Belinda, a fierce spiritual empath, and sure enough, one by one, Rosalind, Calla, Daphne, and Zellie all succumb to their mother’s prediction. Only Iris survives by running away to New Mexico, where she transforms herself into the artist Sylvia Wren. Sylvia spends the next 60 years of her life in guarded anonymity, while forging an international career as an iconic feminist painter of botanical erotica. Now confronted with the exposure of her true identity and her family’s infamy, Sylvia gets her story out first, recounting the horrors of her sisters’ untimely deaths, their mother’s insanity, and their father’s indifference. Walker's take on the classic Gothic tale fairly shimmers, titillating with a heady concoction of terror and desire, frothy with fever-pitched emotions, and dark with smothering melancholy and macabre spectres.


Library Journal
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In 2017 New Mexico, celebrated artist Sylvia Wren is confronted by a journalist wanting to expose her secret: she's living under an assumed identity, having been born Iris Chapel in 1950s Connecticut, one of six sisters who stand to inherit a fortune built on firearms. Their mother believed that victims of gun violence haunt their house, and with tragedy striking repeatedly as the sisters begin to marry, Iris flees to build a new and safer life. Following Dietland, turned into a hit TV show; with a 40,000-copy first printing.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

From the author of Dietland (2015), a 1950s gothic, complete with a haunted mansion, a controlling older man, a bevy of dying girls, and a heroine who escapes.Sylvia Wren, a rich and famous painter, has a secret: Shes actually Iris Chapel, heiress to the Chapel Firearms fortune, who escaped as her father was driving her to a psych ward 60 years earlier. When a journalist threatens to reveal her identity, Sylvia decides to take control of her own narrative by writing a memoir (this novel). Iris is the fifth of the six tragic Chapel sisters, born in the 1930s, all named for flowers, about whom the village children make up a rhyme: The Chapel sisters: / first they get married / then they get buried. The girls grow up in a gloomy Connecticut mansion nicknamed the wedding cake with a stern, traditional father and a cold mother, Belinda, who believes shes haunted by the ghosts of people killed by Chapel guns. Their maternal grandmother, Rose, and Roses mother died in childbirth, traumas that echo down the generations in the form of an apparent curse. Again and again Belinda smells roses and announces that something terrible is going to happenand soon after, it does. Typically, the something terrible takes the form of a Chapel sister having sex with a man for the first time, then shrieking, laughing, smashing a window, and dropping dead. Although this novel skips from the 1950s to the 2010s without engaging with the feminist movement of the 20th century that made freedom possible for artists like Sylvia, Walker makes it clearthrough heavy-handed symbols and explicit thematic statementsthat she considers this a feminist story. Ive finally come to realize that its my destiny to be one of the madwomen. One of the women who speaks the truth no matter how terrifying it might be. One of the women who stands apart from the crowd, Sylvia writes. She escapes her sisters fate by never having sex with a man (shes a lesbian), by running away to New Mexico, by becoming an artist famous for vulvar flower paintings that sell for an obscene amount of money. (In the world of The Cherry Robbers, Georgia OKeeffe does not exist, and Sylvia Wren occupies (some of) that space, Walker writes in an authors note.)Distinctly drawn characters make the book readable, but it lacks the ambiguity and intensity of really good gothics. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
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The delightfully eerie latest from Walker (Dietland) follows a woman who reinvents herself after a painful childhood. The story begins with Sylvia Wren, a famous artist in her 80s, living in present-day Abiquiu, N.Mex., while her partner, Lola, is away in Brazil. Sylvia receives a letter from a journalist with questions about her past that threaten to reveal her true identity as Iris Chapel. Walker then flashes back to 1950s Connecticut, where Iris grows up with her five older sisters and a mother who has a habit of staring off into the woods and dropping her china before declaring she feels “something terrible” will happen. Their father, who isn’t around much, runs Chapel Firearms, and the women believe their house is haunted by those who were killed by the guns manufactured by the company. Walker does a great job weaving this thread of gothic mystery with revelations about the woman Iris becomes, a “haunted mother, haunted daughter.” A mix of bildungsroman and ghost story, the narrative gains strength as it illuminates its characters’ power of intuition, especially when they’re not afraid to use it. This uncanny tale of dark origins shines brightly. Agent: Alice Tasman, JVNLA. (May)


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

From the author of Dietland (2015), a 1950s gothic, complete with a haunted mansion, a controlling older man, a bevy of dying girls, and a heroine who escapes. Sylvia Wren, a rich and famous painter, has a secret: She’s actually Iris Chapel, heiress to the Chapel Firearms fortune, who escaped as her father was driving her to a psych ward 60 years earlier. When a journalist threatens to reveal her identity, Sylvia decides to take control of her own narrative by writing a memoir (this novel). Iris is the fifth of the six tragic Chapel sisters, born in the 1930s, all named for flowers, about whom the village children make up a rhyme: “The Chapel sisters: / first they get married / then they get buried.” The girls grow up in a gloomy Connecticut mansion nicknamed the wedding cake with a stern, traditional father and a cold mother, Belinda, who believes she’s haunted by the ghosts of people killed by Chapel guns. Their maternal grandmother, Rose, and Rose’s mother died in childbirth, traumas that echo down the generations in the form of an apparent curse. Again and again Belinda smells roses and announces that something terrible is going to happen—and soon after, it does. Typically, the “something terrible” takes the form of a Chapel sister having sex with a man for the first time, then shrieking, laughing, smashing a window, and dropping dead. Although this novel skips from the 1950s to the 2010s without engaging with the feminist movement of the 20th century that made freedom possible for artists like Sylvia, Walker makes it clear—through heavy-handed symbols and explicit thematic statements—that she considers this a feminist story. “I’ve finally come to realize that it’s my destiny to be one of the madwomen. One of the women who speaks the truth no matter how terrifying it might be. One of the women who stands apart from the crowd,” Sylvia writes. She escapes her sisters’ fate by never having sex with a man (she’s a lesbian), by running away to New Mexico, by becoming an artist famous for vulvar flower paintings that sell for “an obscene amount of money.” (“In the world of The Cherry Robbers, Georgia O’Keeffe does not exist, and Sylvia Wren occupies (some of) that space,” Walker writes in an author’s note.) Distinctly drawn characters make the book readable, but it lacks the ambiguity and intensity of really good gothics. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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