The figurative language of Emma Donoghue…

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 metaphors from Emma Donoghue….

I am a fan of the writing of Emma Donoghue, pictured above. The Irish-Canadian writer achieved significant fame in 2010 for her book Room, which was turned into an Academy-Award nominated movie starring Brie Larson.

Although I enjoyed Room, my favourite Donoghue book is her 2016 novel, The Wonder, the story of an English nurse sent to the Irish Midlands in 1859 to watch a little girl whose parents claim is living without food. I wrote about that book, some time ago.

Donoghue’s most recent book is The Pull of the Stars and it’s a timely reminder of the Great Flu epidemic of 1918, telling the stories of a nurse midwife, a doctor and a volunteer who work to care for the sick.

As always, Donoghue’s book contains a rich panopy of figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • A man’s explosive cough on the bench behind me. Then another. Hack, hack, a tree being axed with too small a blade.
  • Full day had broken without my noticing; the late October light stabbed in the east-facing windows.
  • The shawl slid off her head; her think hair cropped inches from the scalp stood up, the prickles of a hedgehog.
  • Uncovered, her belly was silvered with the snail trails of her previous two pregnancies as well as this one.
  • Bridie Sweeney stared— then nodded, head bobbing, a flower on its stem.
  • Snatches of conversation were smoke winding around me.
  • Silence like silk around us.
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