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Publisher's Summary

Winner of both the Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, The Polished Hoe is acclaimed author Austin Clarke's masterpiece.

On a Caribbean island in the 1950s, elderly Mary Gertrude Mathilda commits murder. As she explains herself to police, her story exposes the ugly underbelly of life on Caribbean plantations, with its slavery and brutality.

When Mary-Mathilda, one of the most respected women of the island of Bimshire (also known as Barbados) calls the police to confess to the crime, the result is a shattering all-night vigil that brings together elements of the island's African past and the tragic legacy of colonialism in one epic sweep.

Set in the West Indies in the period following World War II, The Polished Hoe - an Essence best seller and a Washington Post Book World Most Worthy Book of 2003 - unravels over the course of 24 hours but spans the collective experience of a society characterized by slavery.

©2003 Austin Clarke; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Brilliantly written dialogue, a rich, dancing patois that fills out the dimensions of the island's painful history and its complex caste system." (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Overall

the murder mystery is not the point

As other reviewers have mentioned, this novel is slow paced and meandering -- not "edge of seat" detective fiction. That doesn't mean it is "pointless." In fact, it's a rich, engrossing immersion in 1950s West Indies, with all its beautiful and hideous social-historical baggage, captured in the conversation of one night.

I am very glad that I listened to rather than read this gem because the narrator's delivery of Clarke's rich dialogue adds value to this GREAT novel. I love good detective fiction as much as any other Audible listener, but don't download this if you're looking only for that.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I gave up too...

I chose this book because it was read by Robin Miles, one of my favorite narrators and because it was set in the Caribbean but like the two previous reviewers, I had to give up. The story kept dragging and dragging - no climax, no form. Not enjoyable at all. Sorry.

  • Overall

Never Ending

This book just kept going on and on and on. I had to stop listening to it as it never seemed to reach a climax or be put in any type of perspective. The narrators voice got very trying after a while also. One of the only books I have never finished

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • D.
  • 03-22-10

Neverending ditto

I must heartily agree with the previous reviewer; this book just keeps going on and on and on with no apparent point. I hung in there through the first part and a bit into the second, desperately waiting for something to happen. If it did, I'll never know because I gave up. Very disappointing.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs. Ruby Greene
  • 03-25-14

A disappointing read

What disappointed you about The Polished Hoe?

It was a long rambling story with a very disappointing and unrealistic end

What could Austin Clarke have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Made it shorter and more focused.It was unclear what he was trying to do in this book. He started to say something about a specific subject then deviated and rambled for another two chapters and seemed to forgot the original point he was making, leaving the reader frustrated. His historical timelines were all askew which made the book unbelievable. Events narrated graphically in the book could not have taken place in the historical timelines he described. He kept contradicting himself in that respect Although the topic he was dealing with (the relationship between the Plantocracy and slaves in a specific Caribbean island is not an easy one to handle in a palatable way, it has been done by other authors such as Andrea Levy and in a different scenario by Northcroft. The events he narrated were not impossible but highly improbable especially the consequences he proports for the non ruling classes. This author seemed to have been bent more at criticizing what happened historically from a political perspective rather than telling a palatable believable story.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

yes

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment

Any additional comments?

This had the potential to be a good book but the story did not grab me and I felt more frustration than enjoyment reading this book. It was a chore to complete.I just wanted to know if in the end he would redeem himself but he did not.