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Nothing like the flick

2out of 5

by helper on December 3, 2011

Sprinkled throughout this novel just when I am feeling that I am following a child's foolish fantasy is Sue Monk Kidd's description of scent and the memory it evokes for Lily. For example, upon recognizing her mother's scent on a fifth-grade teacher, who tells her it is Ponds Cold Cream, Lily is "shocked." But she is not upset by learning the source of the smell, or because the teacher donns it; her reaction is caused by the scent itself. For if the author wished to convey that the teacher shocked Lily, the word "shocked" would have been placed away from the word "scent" and nearer to the word "teacher." Instead, we read,

It was a shock when I came upon the scent [of my mother] on my fifth-grade teacher, who said it was nothing but plain ordinary Ponds Cold Cream.

This sentence structure conveys the feeling that scent evokes for the character, Lily. And that feeling is portrayed with a word derived from the French word choc, indicating an armed encounter, as in battle. Lily associates this lasting memory with her own inner struggle.

This technique is what carried me all the way through The Secret Life of Bees to the end.
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Reviewed by helper

16 reviews
Average customer rating
3.6 out of 5

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