The figurative language of Barbara Kingsolver

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I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about metaphors and personification from Barbara Kingsolver…

I’ve been a fan of American writer Barbara Kingsolver (pictured above), ever since I read her 1998 novel The Poisonwood Bible, still on my lifetime “top 10” list of the best books I’ve ever read.

Her most recent novel, Unsheltered (2018) doesn’t rise to the same standard. Nevertheless, it offers a highly readable story about two families — two centuries apart — who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey.

And, as usual, Barbara Kingsolver displays a superb use of figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • “Easy does it,” she coached, wondering what Dixie’s old eyes were making of these Vineland sidewalks that were broken everywhere, heaved up by the bunions of giant old trees.
  • She was the crisis-handler, he was the evader. Marriages tended to harden like arteries, and she and Iano were more than thirty years into this one.
  • This evening he would come in the door like a blast of warm weather, give her a kiss in the kitchen before changing out of his office clothes, and they’d have no chance to talk before dinner.
  • He had more than an infant’s normal share [of hair], jet black like Helene’s, standing up from his head as if in horror at this life he’d landed in.
  • “What is it?” Rose’s hand flew to the ribbon tied at her throat, as if it might be holding her together.
  • She turned to the pile of bills burgeoning like fungus on her desk.
  • Through the open parlor door Thatcher could see the corseted bulwark of his mother-in-law laboring at her writing desk, the shoulders grandiosely hunched in the muttonchopped sleeves of a florid dress. Aurelia was a cattleya orchid: immoderately showy.
  • The candle flames flinched in unison as an exterior door was opened and closed.
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