Like a burst of hope

Like a burst of hope

A heartening simile in a vivid, gripping narrative of humans ground between the shifting tectonic plates of contradictory but equally totalitarian ideologies. There is neither much sunshine nor hope in the book, but such hope as there is is tenacious and connected to...
Like sunlight on a landscape

Like sunlight on a landscape

You can see an overcast English landscape of rolling hills and fields, and a sudden break in the clouds pierced by a spotlight of sunshine.  This is a lovely novel, with the sunny wit of Jane Austen and the earthiness of George Eliot.‘And as for Molly, her face glowed...
Nervous as horses

Nervous as horses

A jumpy, unsettling opening to a powerful page that drives to the source of fury in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. You can imagine horses prancing, shying, frisking, snorting and whinnying, eyeing askance an oncoming tempest. You can imagine that what’s to...
Eyes like lakes

Eyes like lakes

A surprising simile: lake-like eyes reflecting the sky.  Something touching too about the contrast of apparently wide open eyes, and a face that resembles a rocky, ugly landscape. ‘His eyes were almost transparent as though in a country of ugly hills one were to...
Blank as a wall, wall as a blank

Blank as a wall, wall as a blank

The identical twins Ladies Cora and Clarice aren’t just lookalikes, but also one another’s echo chambers.  They live in their own quarters of the rambling pile of Gormenghast, driving themselves round the bend with thirst for ‘power’ and its...
Dark and small

Dark and small

What a powerful simile, conveying something inward-turning and dangerous through its vivid portrayal of cranial size as a small, corroded bullet. His skull was dark and small like a corroded musket bullet. For other bullet related metaphors and quotations, see Adam...
Reasoning in vain

Reasoning in vain

A convincing form of fruitlessness, as it’s hard to imagine a pious vulture.  The sister in question is an awkward customer, not easy for her entirely reasonable brother to reason with.’One glance at his sister was sufficient to make him realize that to...
Don’t stand there staring…

Don’t stand there staring…

A colourful way to deter someone from staring at you and, in case of need, to insult your staff.  Stenching mules. Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books are not only an imaginative masterpiece but also a ready sourcebook of new and inventive invective. Your cursing...
As expressionless as …

As expressionless as …

Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy is packed with original metaphor and simile.  In Titus Groan, the first book, I noted two similes for ‘expressionless’, both appropriate, though I think I prefer the second. See also his description of a blank...

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