Gemstones

“I’ll just step over to Green Gables after tea and find out from Marilla where he’s gone and why,” the worthy woman finally concluded. “He doesn’t generally go to town this time of year and he never visits; if he’d run out of turnip seed he wouldn’t dress up and take the buggy to go for more; he wasn’t driving fast enough to be going for a doctor. Yet something must have happened since last night to start him off. I’m clean puzzled, that’s what, and I won’t know a minute’s peace of mind or conscience until I know what has taken Matthew Cuthbert out of Avonlea today.”

Accordingly after tea Mrs. Rachel set out; she had not far to go; the big, rambling, orchard-embowered house where the Cuthberts lived was a scant quarter of a mile up the road from Lynde’s Hollow. To be sure, the long lane made it a good deal further. Matthew Cuthbert’s father, as shy and silent as his son after him, had got as far away as he possibly could from his fellow men without actually retreating into the woods when he founded his homestead. Green Gables was built at the furthest edge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so sociably situated. Mrs. Rachel Lynde did not call living in such a place living at all.

“It’s just staying, that’s what,” she said as she stepped along the deep-rutted, grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes. “It’s no wonder Matthew and Marilla are both a little odd, living away back here by themselves. Trees aren’t much company, though dear knows if they were there’d be enough of them. I’d ruther look at people. To be sure, they seem contented enough; but then, I suppose, they’re used to it. A body can get used to anything, even to being hanged, as the Irishman said.”

With this Mrs. Rachel stepped out of the lane into the backyard of Green Gables. Very green and neat and precise was that yard, set about on one side with great patriarchal willows and the other with prim Lombardies. Not a stray stick nor stone was to be seen, for Mrs. Rachel would have seen it if there had been. Privately she was of the opinion that Marilla Cuthbert swept that yard over as often as she swept her house. One could have eaten a meal off the ground without over-brimming the proverbial peck of dirt.

Gemstone illustration by Emil Hochdanz. CC0

about jacinda

ABOUT

Jacinda Townsend grew up in Southcentral Kentucky and left for Harvard at the age of sixteen. It was there that she took her first creative writing classes; while at Duke Law School, she cross-registered in the English department, where she took her next few formative writing workshops. After four years of being first a broadcast journalist and then an antitrust lawyer in New York City, Jacinda went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received her MFA before going on to spend a year as a Fulbright fellow to Côte d’Ivoire.

During her Fulbright year, on a layover in Morocco, Jacinda discovered the city of Marrakech and fell in love. Later that same year, on a trip to Northern Mali, she also first witnessed modern-day slavery: that incident inspired the research that eventually took her to Mauritania, where she met with escaped slaves and anti-slavery activists and began the work that would become her forthcoming novel, Mother Country.  Mother Country is told in the voices of an American woman struggling with infertility who kidnaps a young Moroccan girl, and the young mother, escaped from Mauritanian slavery, who loses her. Mother Country will be published by Graywolf Press in May, 2022.

Jacinda is also the author of Saint Monkey (Norton, 2014), which is set in 1950’s Eastern Kentucky and is a love letter to a Black community that has all but disappeared. Saint Monkey won the 2015 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for best fiction written by a woman and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for that year’s best historical fiction. Saint Monkey was also the 2015 Honor Book of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

Jacinda recently finished work on a third novel, James Loves RuthJames Loves Ruth is told in the voices of Ruth Hurley, who changed her identity and moved across the country after her father was killed by police in the late eighties, and James Hurley, her soon-to-be-ex-husband, who spends the novel uncovering the truth about his wife. Excerpts from the novel have appeared in Auburn Avenue, Copper Nickel, and Transition.

Jacinda has taught in MFA programs across the country, and is mom to two magnificent children who amaze her daily.

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