Word count: 345 words
Reading time: Just over 1 minute
A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. That’s why, every week, I present a sentence that I’d happily imitate. Today’s comes from Rachel Joyce, author of the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry….
I wanted to like the novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry better than I did. The idea — of a man walking 600 miles across England to visit a friend dying in a hospice — was poignant and interesting. But much of the book’s execution was a bit too cute for my taste. I also kept wondering about some of the practicalities. Harold obsessed about money. But, really, staying in B&Bs for a month would hardly be enough to bankrupt most people, would it? As well, I kept wondering how he paid his way. He seemed like the kind of man who would have abhorred credit cards. Yet he never seemed to go to the bank… It also bothered me that peonies seemed to bloom for the entire three months of the book’s duration, when I know them to be a June flower. But I digress…
The book did reveal two sentences that I liked very much:
Maureen sat alone as the dark fell, while neon lights came on across the hills and bled pools of amber light into the night.
She twiddled her wedding ring so hard it looked as if she might unscrew her finger.
I liked the first because of the sensational verb, “bled” complete with its personification. Isn’t that a perfect way to describe the way certain kinds of light fall in darkness? I also like that the author catches us short by associating a yellow colour — amber — with a word we generally think of as red. It’s a good thing when writing makes us see the world differently.
I enjoyed the second sentence because I’ve seen so many people perform this manoeuvre (and done it myself!) and never before made the connection with “unscrewing a finger.” But isn’t that exactly what it looks like?