The Polished Hoe

The Polished Hoe

A Novel

Book - 2002
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Winner of the 2002 Scotiabank Giller Prize and of the 2003 Commonwealth Writers' Prize: Best Book (Canada and the Caribbean)

When an elderly Bimshire village woman calls the police to confess to a murder, the result is a shattering all-night vigil that brings together elements of the African diaspora in one epic sweep. Set on the post-colonial West Indian island of Bimshire in 1952, The Polished Hoe unravels over the course of 24 hours but spans the lifetime of one woman and the collective experience of a society informed by slavery.

As the novel opens, Mary Mathilda is giving confession to Sargeant, a police officer she has known all her life. The man she claims to have murdered is Mr. Belfeels, the village plantation owner for whom she has worked for more than thirty years. Mary has also been Mr. Belfeels' mistress for most of that time and is the mother of his only son, Wilberforce, a successful doctor.

What transpires through Mary's words and recollections is a deep meditation about the power of memory and the indomitable strength of the human spirit. Infused with Joycean overtones, this is a literary masterpiece that evokes the sensuality of the tropics and the tragic richness of Island culture.

Publisher: Toronto : T. Allen Publishers, 2002.
ISBN: 9780887621109
Characteristics: 462 p. ;,24 cm.


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Mar 29, 2019

Possibly a good work but I loathe writers who use present tense in story telling.
So I stopped.
Seems to more of the style and I don't know what editors are thinking - it's not familiar to many readers and seems useless in historical story or novel - nobody speaks like this (or when they do, they are considered crass.) So why write like this?
I am learning now to check the inside text of books before I take them home.

Feb 18, 2018

Got to page 30 and couldn't get into it. Just moved on. I rarely give up on a book so quickly. Tend to agree with Alliez (june 9/09).

Oct 15, 2017

an amazing novel - loved the dialogue, the story-line, the characters, the setting, the perspective.....hope I'm not forgetting anything.
I had this on my to-read list for at least 3 years and am so glad that I finally read it.
horrifying to read about black/brown people being treated as property by members of the white establishment on their island - and the implications of that use and abuse.

Sep 05, 2011

Difficult to put down. Entertaining and enlightening. Wonderfully written. Strong female character. Can't recommend it highly enough.

michellejackson Jul 09, 2010

This was a wonderful story. It sheds light on the condition of slavery as the story reveals the main characters experience of slavery. It gives reader insight into the conditions of slaves in the Island of Barbados. This makes a good read during Black History Month.

Jun 09, 2009

A torturous read if you ask me!

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