A bobbing little nod….

Reading time: About 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing is to emulate the work of others. That’s why, every week, I present a sentence that I’d happily imitate. I comment today on one written by novelist Cathy Marie Buchanan.

I picked up the novel The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan on the “fast reads” shelf at my local library. This, by definition, means it’s a popular book. The loan period is just one week, there are no renewals and fines are $1/day.

A piece of historical fiction, focusing on the imagined “back-story” of the Degas sculpture Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, (pictured adjacent) the book describes the hardscrabble life of young dancers growing up in late 19th century Paris.

Praised by KirkusThe Globe and MailThe Washington Post and even People Magazine, the book builds a compelling plot by tying together the lives of a dancer and a (real life) convicted criminal. I found the story a bit soap opera-ish and I’m not surprised to learn it’s been optioned for television.

Still, I found a sentence I liked very much. Here it is.

The Superioress gives my arm a little squeeze, like we are friends, and I make a bobbing little nod, awkward as a hen. 

During the times I’ve been on a farm, I’ve noted the remarkable awkwardness of hens. I like the way the author thinks to make a comparison to humans, the head-nodding indicating embarrassment or shame.

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