The kind of stilettos that could wreck an old oak floor…

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a metaphor from Ian McEwan…

I’m a longtime fan of writer Ian McEwan. I found Atonement to be his best book ever, and I also appreciated Sweet Tooth. I even enjoyed On Chesil Beach and Amsterdambooks that many critics found too short or too lightweight (although the latter won the 1998 Booker Prize).

His latest book, The Children Act, however, strikes me as deeply flawed. I found the main character — a female high court judge in London, whose marriage is crumbling — to be boring and banal and the overall plot arc to be too “neat” in an O. Henry kind of way.

Still, McEwan can really write. Here, for example, is my favourite metaphor from the book:

She thought of his proposed or actual lover, his statistician, Melanie — she had met her once — a silent young woman with heavy amber beads and a taste for the kind of stilettos that could wreck an old oak floor.

I like the way the character shows contempt for her husband’s lover by describing (cheap) amber beads and a (low class) affection for high-heeled stilettos. And, of course, she reveals her own (upper class) leanings by being the kind of person who ensures that oak floors, especially old ones, are not damaged.

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