As though she were describing a slight…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a simile from Colm Toibin…

I almost didn’t read the novel Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin (pictured above). I’d seen the Academy-Award-nominated movie and found it a bit dull. “Meh, that was just okay,” I thought. “I’ve seen worse, but I’ve also seen a lot better.”

But a friend of mine urged me to read the book and even helpfully provided me with a copy. And here’s the thing that astonished me. Even though the movie had closely followed the line of the book —  plotwise,  it felt almost like a carbon copy — it utterly missed the charm and the insight of the writing.

I think it’s one of those books that should never have been turned into a movie. Or, if it had, it should have been re-imagined so as to display the strengths of movie-making and to downplay the advantages of the printed word.

Here’s a simile that might illustrate the point I’m trying to make:

Miss Kelly spoke, Eilis thought, as though she were describing a slight done to her, closing her mouth tightly between each phrase.

While a talented actress can portray this image, the richness of the figurative language is going to be lost onscreen. The final descriptive coda — closing her mouth tightly between each phrase — is what seals the deal for me.

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