The figurative language of Anne Enright

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of simlies from Anne Enright….

Anne Enright is an Irish writer and the first Laureate for Irish Fiction (2015–2018). She has published seven novels, many short stories, and a non-fiction book about the birth of her two children. She is also winner of the Man Booker Prize (2007), for her novel The Gathering.

Her most recent work, The Wren, the Wren, tells the story of three generations of women who had the bad luck to be related — by blood or marriage — to a celebrated poet who treated his family badly.

  • The nightjar [a bird] looks like a pine cone with big night eyes.
  • She put her hands under her chin like a pair of geisha fans.
  • This man was twice her size and he was her father, so the back of his hand was like the weather, you just kept out of the way.
  • She took Ronan’s hand and Carmel’s hand, like a child in a Hollywood musical at the end of the story, when everything has been fixed.
  • And in that soot I saw…something: a stirring in the grass, a quick lozenge of light that flickered away.
  • She went about her breakfast, screwing the coffee pot together with a metal shriek and putting it on the stove. It was too early for the radio and the silence made her actions seem very loud.
  • The oats sighed as they left the paper bag, the frozen berries chinked against the dish.
  • Phil’s hands shaped the air in front of his rotting chest as he talked of the little Irish wren, and there was just a whisper of alcohol in there, softening his tongue and wetting those mischievous, fond eyes.
  • [She was]..a neat Vassar student whose family finances were so quiet, they were like the air itself
  • The connection between us is more than a strand of DNA, it is a rope thrown from the past, a fat twisted rope, full of blood.
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