Flexion by Cate Kennedy
Learning words in their narrative context; food for thought for your own creative pieces.
She feels… “Cheated as she watches Frank lifting a spoon to his face, scowling with a kind of ferocious, vindictive resolve, like he’s going to hit someone”. p. 6
Note the description of the scowl:
vindictive: disposed to seek vengeance; characterised by rancour or spite
resolve: something determined or decided resolution; firmness of purpose; determination;
“Her loathing is such a pure thing she experiences a secret visceral pleasure to watch him cornered like this, tormented by something as incomprehensible and enraging as kindness.” p. 10
visceral: characterised by intuition or instinct rather than intellect; relating to viscera – the gut.
note the conflicted and contradictory reaction/relationship to kindness; and her difficult relationship with Frank.
“So who came and dug the trench? he snaps accusingly.
accusingly – to accuse. Note the dialogue and the tone of voice which is critical
“He actually grimaces with discomfort, uttering at her to get out of his way as he shuffles past.” p. 11
a grimace: an ugly or distorted facial expression as of wry humour, disgust etc., to grimace – is to contort the face.
“He’d stayed in control then too, sprawled there licking his lips every now and again, his eyes losing focus with something like bewilderment as he stared up into the blue, something almost innocent.” p. 11
bewilderment: noun – confusion. to bewilder; to confuse utterly; puzzle
“I’m not stupid,’ he mutters, but his eyes are following her every move, the pupils dilated.” p. 12
to dilate; to expand; make or become wider or larger;
to dilate on or upon; to speak or write at length; expand or enlarge.
“And when he looks at her with familiar, narrow contempt, she picks up the hand mirror, lying there next to the scissors on the table, and a steady exhilaration pumps through her.” p. 13
contempt: (or disdain); the feeling that someone or something is mean or disgraceful or worthless.
to exhilarate: to make lively and cheerful; gladden; elate;
“The girl had just laughed indulgently at him, she remembers now. She must send those staff members a card and a present, thank them all for their forbearance.”
to indulge; to yield to or gratify – a whim or desire for; to yeield to the wishes of; pamper;
indulgence; the act of indulging or state of being indulgent; a pleasure, habit etc. indulged in; extravagance; liberal or tolerant treatment.
forbearance: to cease or refrain from doing something; self control or patience
She thinks about lying there, unable to lift one’s limbs. “The terrible treasonous distance between them that must be traversed, the numbed heaviness of her arm.”
to traverse: to cross. Note the alliteration in the description of the distance.
She thinks about Frank, “hovering over her entire working day, badgering her and criticising her and depending on her for everything. And her, running the gauntlet outside church and in town.” p. 9
to badger: to pester or harass.
There are several idioms relating to gauntlet – a medieval armoured leather glove; the gauntlet is also a former military punishment; the victim runs between two rows of men who strike at him as he passes;
Using idioms well can give your writing an aura of sophistication. For example, to take up or throw down the gauntlet – to accept the offer or challenge
to run the gauntlet – to suffer this punishment; to endure an onslaught or ordeal as of criticism; a testing ordeal; a trial