Excerpt from The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Polished Hoe

by Austin Clarke

The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2003, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2004, 480 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Excerpt
The Polished Hoe

"MY NAME IS MARY. People in this Village call me Mary-Mathilda. Or, Tilda, for short. To my mother I was Mary-girl. My names I am christen with are Mary Gertrude Mathilda, but I don't use Gertrude, because my maid has the same name. My surname that people 'bout-here uses, is either Paul, or Bellfeels, depending who you speak to. . . "

"Everybody in Flagstaff Village knows you as Miss Bellfeels, ma'am," the Constable says. "And they respects you."

"Nevertheless, Bellfeels is not the name I want attach to this Statement that I giving you. . . "

"I will write-down that, ma'am, as you tell it to me. But. .

"This Sunday evening," she says, interrupting him, "a little earlier, round seven o'clock, I walked outta here, taking the track through the valley; past the two stables converted into a cottage; past the sheep pens and the goat pens, and fowl coops; and through the grove of fruit trees until I came to the Front-Road, walking between two fields of canes. In total darkness. But I knew the way, like the back of my two hands. Now, where we are in this Great House is the extremity of the Plantation Houses, meaning the furtherest away from the Main House, with six other houses, intervening. These consist of the house the Book-keeper occupies; one for the Overseer, Mr. Lawrence Burkhart, who we call the Driver - that's the smallest house; one for the Assistant Manager, a Englishman, which is the third biggest after the Main House; and there is a lil hut for the watchman, Watchie; and then there is this Great House where we are. The Main House have three floors, to look over the entire estate of the Plantation, like a tower in a castle. To spy on everybody. Every-other house has two floors. Like this one. That would give you, in case you never been so close to this Plantation before, the lay of the land and of things; the division of work and of household."

"I sees this Plantation only from a distance, ma'am. I know it from a distance only," the Constable says.

"It was dark, and I couldn't see even my two hands outstretch in front of me. I took the way from here, right through the valley where the track cuts through it. I could make out the canes on both sides of me; and I could hear them shaking, as there was a steady wind the whole evening; the kind of wind that comes just before a heavy downpour of rain, like before a hurricane. They were 'arrows' shooting-out from the tops of canes. Crop-Season, as you well-know, is in full swing; and the Factory grinding canes, day and night. You could smell the crack-liquor, the fresh cane juice, strong-strong! What a sweet, but sickening smell cane juice is, when you smell it from near!

"Wilberforce, my son, who was home earlier, is my witness to the hour I left ...

"Have I told you about Wilberforce, yet? No? Pardon me. The memory is fading, Constable, the memory. The mind not sharp no more, and ... very often ... What was I telling you about?"

"You was talking about your son, Mr. Wilberforce, the doctor, ma am.

"Yes! Wilberforce! My first-born. He isn't really the first of my children I give birth to. He's the one outta the three who lived past childbirth.

"Wilberforce, always with his head always inside a book, I keep telling him that with all that book-learning retain in his bead, if he's not careful, he going burst his blasted brains!

"He, I gave birth to, in the year nineteen ... I told you that, didn't I?"

"You didn't tell me when Mr. Wilberforce born, ma'am."

"Nevertheless. Two more children I had. A boy and a girl. I gave them the names I intended to christen them with, if they had live. William Henry. Two names I took from a English magazine. And Rachelle Sarah Prudence, the girl. Lovely English names I named my two dead children with. One died eighteen months after the first one. The boy.

From The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Noise of Time
    by Julian Barnes
    Confession: I do two terrible – some say unforgivable – things while reading a book. First...
  • Book Jacket
    Smoke
    by Dan Vyleta
    In Dan Vyleta's universe, set in an alternate Victorian England, people engaging in sinful thought ...
  • Book Jacket: Golden Hill
    Golden Hill
    by Francis Spufford
    Spufford brings American history to raucous life through the story of Mr. Richard Smith, a ...

Win this book!
Win The Library of Light and Shadow

The Library of Light and Shadow by M.J. Rose

"Possibly her best yet. A sensuous, sumptuous, and spellbinding novel." - Kirkus Reviews

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Almost Sisters
    by Joshilyn Jackson

    A powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T H Are B T O

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.