The figurative language of Claire Fuller…

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of similes and metaphors from British writer Claire Fuller…

I recently finished the exquisitely written novel Swimming Lessons by British writer Claire Fuller. To be fair, I don’t think she wrapped up the plot terribly well. The story of a dysfunctional family with the father in the final days of his life and an absent (dead?) mother and two argumentative daughters was interesting enough — but the ending disappointed me. Still, Fuller’s figurative language was superb.

Here are some of my favourite examples:

  • Close up, the abstract swirls and eddies embroidered on the tablecloth transformed themselves into silvery-blue fish swimming over her knees.
  • Flora gazed upwards, watching the branches of the hornbeam slice the moon like a pie.
  • ‘He’s an idiot,’ I said, and realized I’d spoken aloud when the plump woman in front of me and a great cape swiveled her pigeon head.
  • Behind you the percolator’s stomach rumbled.
  • You were called back by the waitress, and as I glanced over my shoulder you were standing in the doorway, both hands resting on the frame as if you alone were keeping the building from collapsing.
  • There were fewer books in the kitchen, but they still hugged the walls, cluttered the table and roosted on the counter. These had strips of newspaper, hanging out like loose grey tongues, marking pages.
  • For that week I replayed our time in the café so often the memory became grey through overuse.
  • The tide was going out, sucking at the sand, rattling the loose stones, and the sea was the colour of wet denim. Above it, the palest lemon yellow stains in the sky
  • I gazed out of your kitchen window at a washing line slung from a corner of the house to a metal pole. A dozen clothes pegs clung like birds on a wire and a sock dangled from one of them.
  • His left eye looked grotesque in the morning light, puffed and purple like a rotten aubergine.
  • I sat on Nan’s bed, feeling useless, and gazing out at the sea where ragged clouds tore themselves to shreds against a knife-sharp horizon.
  • I swam straight out towards the rising sun, which was under-lighting the clouds with a dramatic orange as if I were swimming into a renaissance landscape.