The figurative language of Stacia Pelletier….

Reading time: Less than 1  minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of metaphors from Stacia Pelletier….

The plot of the novel The Half Wives by American writer Stacia Pelletier (pictured above), did not sound promising to me. Set in late 19th century San Francisco it takes place on a single day (May 22, 1897) and is told through the voices of four main characters — former Lutheran minister Henry, his wife Marilyn, his lover Lucy and their daughter, Blue.

The Half-Wives title made me envision a type of Harlequin romance novel pot-boiler but I was relieved to find the book sophisticated, historically interesting and beautifully written. Pelletier has a keen eye and ear for figurative language, as the following examples demonstrate:

  • Someone needs to correct this woman’s way of speaking. Henry would. He corrects people’s grammar like he’s brushing lint off a sweater.
  • You squeeze harder and harder until you feel like your eyelids might never open again. You no longer believe in a powerful God. You no longer believe in your husband. You hold on to both. They are necessary. They are handholds in the rock.
  • Henry still writes monthly letters to your sister on your behalf. You have refused to correspond with Penny until she agrees to come to San Francisco for a visit. It’s a ridiculous standoff. But pride is a demanding mistress.
  • By half past five the room had darkened to whorls of lavender and charcoal.
  • [He was] as worried as a cat in a roomful of rockers.