More figurative language from Maggie O’Farrell

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of images from Maggie O’Farrell….

I had heard positive reviews of a new novel by Maggie O’Farrell, pictured above. Titled Hamnet and Judith, the book is a piece of historical fiction, telling the story of Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, who died as a young man, presumably of the plague.

I found the story riveting and the writing exquisite. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in the last 10 years. Here, then, is my favourite figurative language from Maggie O’Farrell.

  • Small creatures [cats] they are, with faces like pansies and soft pads on their paws.
  • His hair is the colour of ripe wheat.
  • She begins, quietly, to weep, the tears coursing from her cheeks to rest like pearls in her father’s hair.
  • The trees could be seen from the back windows, tossing their restless heads on windy days, shaking their bare and twisted fists in winter.
  • There is a storehouse at the back for the glove workshop, where the empty skins of forest creatures are stretched out like penitents on racks.
  • Hunger growls in his stomach, low and menacing, like a dog crouched inside his body.
  • The husband struggles in his grasp but he is a good head and shoulders shorter than Bartholomew, who is a colossus of a man, with hands like bowls and shoulders like an oak tree.
  • ‘All’s well,’ he says, and his words are heavy, as if he is spitting out pebbles as he speaks.
  • His head is filled with pain, like a bowl brimful of scalding water.
  • Here is her neighbour, a man with grizzled hair and a yellowish tinge to his thin face (he will not last the year, Agnes thinks, the fact flitting through her mind like a swallow across a sky).
  • ‘Please,’ says her mother, and voice doesn’t sound as it usually does. It is pinched and tight, like an outgrown smock.
  • He yawns, his jaw cracking with a sound like a breaking nutshell.
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