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, Wilbeforce, 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.