The sun…a scoop of butter oozing…

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 metaphor from Hannah Kent….

The fine book Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (pictured above) is being turned into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence. I hope this will bring the Icelandic historical novel the publicity it richly deserves.

Based on the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the novel is set in rural Iceland in 1829. Agnes awaits execution for the murder of her former employer and his friend. But she cannot be kept in prison, because there isn’t one in the area. Instead, a local farmer’s family must fearfully and grudgingly take on the task. The book slowly reveals Agnes’s imagined back-story (is all as it seems? Perhaps not.) It also describes the hardscrabble life of early 19th century Icelanders. So much cold! So little food!

While Burial Rites is a first novel, it’s a skillfully written one. Here is my favourite metaphor:

The sun melted, a scoop of butter oozing, briefly delineating the vague separation of lowering sky from rising sea.

I like the way the author uses a food metaphor for a book in which the lack of sustenance is such a central issue. I further appreciate her juxtaposition of the lowering sky with the rising sea.

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