The figurative language of Gail Honeyman….

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 metaphors, similes and personification from Gail Honeyman….

When I heard the book titleEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (pictured above), I suspected it might be either funny or charming. It is both. It also features some of the finest figurative language I’ve read all year. It amazes me that this is Scottish writer Gail Honeyman’s first book. She is a writer to watch.

Here are my favourite examples:

  • It often feels as if I’m not here, that I’m a figment of my own imagination. There are days when I feel so lightly connected to the earth that the threads that tether me to the planet are gossamer thin, spun sugar. A strong gust of wind could dislodge me completely, and I’d lift off and blow away, like one of those seeds in a dandelion clock.
  • He pulled at the collar of his shirt, as though trying to free his enormous Adam’s apple from its constraints. He had the look of a gazelle or an impala, one of those boring beige animals with large, round eyes on the sides of its face.
  • She laughed a cocktail party tinkle—the light, bright sound of a Noel Coward character enjoying an amusing exchange of bons mots on a wisteria-clad terrace.
  • They looked at each other silently, rather like ruminant animals in a field.
  • Silence sat between us, shivering with misery.
  • Given that he was wearing candy-striped pyjamas and his white hair was as fluffy and spiky as a baby pigeon’s, he nevertheless cut a surprisingly assertive figure.
  • “The thing is, Eleanor, you need an ankle boot with skinny jeans, really,” she said, as seriously as though she were a hospital consultant giving medical advice.
  • Raymond and I made a valiant effort, but it’s impossible to sing when you’re crying — there’s a lump like a plum stone lodged in your throat, and the music can’t get past it.
  • “To Sammy,” he said, and we clinked glasses like people do on television. [The wine] tasted of warmth and velvet, and a little bit like burned jam.
  • It was such a strange, unusual feeling — light, calm, as though I’d swallowed sunshine.
  • The moment hung in time like a drop of honey from a spoon, heavy, golden.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Dec. 14/21.

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