Nell Stevens and her figurative language…

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

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 Nell Stevens…

I like writers with a sense of humour. Perhaps this explains my fandom of Nell Stevens (pictured above). A British writer who holds a degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Warwick, an MFA in fiction from Boston University, and a PhD in Victorian literature from King’s College London, she is the author of a memoir I loved, Bleaker House.

When I heard she had published a novel, I raced to read it. The Victorian and the Romantic is a lollypop of a book, filled with an engaging plot, twisting together the (imagined) life of Victorian writer Elizabeth Gaskell and the (somewhat fictionalized) life of Nell Stevens herself.

The book is also filled with clever figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • In the morning, if you got up early, which you never normally liked to do but seemed to manage at sea, you saw it all again in reverse: the darkness falling away and in its place an optimistic flag of dawn colours.
  • None of them [the questions from a supervisory committee] result in the anticipated humiliation, and it feels as though I am dodging knives thrown at my head, like some kind of academic ninja.
  • He looks formidably serious, and I can feel blood rushing to my cheeks: a blush that proceeds to descend, like paint dripping, down my neck and under the collar of my shirt.
  • I have grown used to being the only single [person], to entertaining them all with funny stories about bad dates and awkward one-night stands, like a foreign correspondent reporting from a far-off land they once visited but barely remember.
  • You clung to your memories of him, the way the old Catholic ladies in Rome clung to their rosary beads.
  • Now that I have been firmly uninvited by Max, [travel grants] arrive, like forgotten boomerangs that have returned to hit me in the face.
  • The thought of Hawthorne being nearby, of the little bud of Italy that was blossoming from his pen, made you think of the pace with refreshed intensity.
  • The skin [of a surgical scar] is bulging where the seam is, with wisps of stitches poking through like the legs of an insect trying to escape.