The figurative language of Matt Haig

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 similes and metaphors from Matt Haig….

I’m not usually a fan of what’s variously described as magical realism, speculative fiction or fantasy. I try to stay clear of books like that.

But, somehow, I managed to pick up and The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Perhaps I was drawn in by the similarity of the title with Matthew and the Midnight Towtruck, one of my children’s favourite books when they were young.

In any case, I was caught up by the story before I realized how fantastical it was. Matt Haig tells the tale of a young girl who can — magically — undo her regrets by reliving her life, which is contained by a series of books in an imaginary library.

The book was shortlisted for the 2021 British Book Awards “Fiction book of the year.”.And it was adapted for radio and broadcast in 10 episodes on BBC Radio 4 in December 2020.

In addition to offering a compelling plot, Matt Haig also shows a deft hand with figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • She was a waterfall of apologies. She was drowning in herself.
  • The place was well-lit, and the floor was light stone —somewhere between light yellow and camel-brown, like the colour of an old page — but the windows she had seen on the outside weren’t there on the inside.
  • These [feelings of regret] were quite strong and bold, and played in her head like an ongoing fortissimo chord in a Haydn concerto.
  • A person was like a city. You couldn’t let a few less desirable parts put you off the whole.
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