The figurative language of Meredith Hall…

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 similes and metaphors from Meredith Hall…

I  had never before heard of author Meredith Hall, a writer and professor emeritus at the University of New Hampshire. I wish I could remember who had suggested that I read her remarkable first novel, Beneficence. It is one of the most moving books I’ve read so far this year.

It tells story of a farm family in Maine, in the 1940s and 50s, dealing with an unspeakable tragedy. Writer Richard Ford wrote that the novel “instructs us to savor life, to set aside our cold spirit, to notice human beings closely and tenderly, and to believe that telling life plainly is a virtue which can achieve beauty.”

Here are my favourite bits of figurative language from this cleanly written and achingly beautiful novel:

  • The trees along the hayfields look like ghosts some summer mornings when the ground fog hugs the warm earth.
  • The mist slowly drifts up and away, so that, by the time I am doing breakfast dishes, the sun makes sharp shadows of the fence wire, like long neat stitches binding us to this place.
  • There is nothing more elegant in this world than the head of a white-tail deer, delicate as a story animal’s, or her fine thin legs that look like they might snap under her weight but will carry her leaping and zigzagging through thick woods and away.
  • I opened the door. The cold, dull air spilled out as if it had been pressing for release.
  • The wool scraps that float across the floors rise and drift and float like little clouds in the yellow gloom.
  • The creek is frozen, a ribbon of silver through the white fields and pasture to the pond. I understood this beauty.
  • The children clung to his arms, laughing and talking. I could see all this but from inside the house it was a wonderful silent movie, and then the shed door opened and their happiness entered the kitchen with them, noisy and unguarded as it still was then.
  • As the light left, they became silhouettes against the purple and silver water, shadows shaped like our children, as if they had slipped away from us and left behind their ghosts.
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