a clear measure of her distress, bordering on incipient...

Alex Coseff

Senior Member
Czech
Hello,

I am a bit confused about the bit in bold. Could you please enlighten me?

Background info: Miss Pitchfor likes to keep her house spick and span, her garden well-tended... her clothes clean, neat and tidy...
There is a button missing on her cardigan and the explanation goes that it is a sign of her distress + bordering on incipient madness..
It is true that she might a bit barmy (just in her own way), however, there is no reason for her to feel distressed.... Yes, there has been a murder in the village, however, the victim is Ms. Pitchford' s neither a close relative nor a friend or somewho who would mean a lot to her...
Do you think I could ask you to paraphrase the bit for me? I imagine the context is a bit insufficient...Still, there is not much information so far about Ms. Pitchford except that she used to be a teacher, is a real gossip and mine of information in the village and a bit of a cleanliness freak....


Many thanks:)

"He saw that she had missed a botton on her cardigan, or perhaps a button was missing altogether. In anyone else, this would be sign of mild forgetfullness. In the fastidious Miss Pitchford, it was a clear measure of her distress, bordering on incipient madness. Although excitenment would have been the better-chosen word."
 
  • pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    If I left a button unbuttoned, nobody would be surprised; I'm sloppy. But when she does it, it indicates that something's wrong, or at least that she's very excited.

    I suspect that the fact that there is no reason for her to be distressed is exactly why it's mentioned; it may be suggesting that she's hiding something. You didn't give us the source, though. Is this from a book?
     

    Alex Coseff

    Senior Member
    Czech
    Hello Pob14,

    Sorry, I forgot about the source: G.M. Malliet: Wicked autumn.

    Thanks a lof for the perfect explanation you gave me:)!
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Giving the title tells me that you're talking about a mystery novel. (Which I suspected.) The suggestion that she's hiding something is therefore more important; maybe she's the killer! Or maybe the author just wants you to think she may be the killer (what we call a "red herring").

    Here, again, is why source is important to us.
     
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