Cockles of the Heart
Minerva, $15.95 pb, 266 pp
Until I reviewed Marion Halligans novel Lovers’ Knots, I didn’t really know much about what a lover’s knot was. And now I know more than I used to know about the word ‘cockle’.
Quite simply, the cockles on cockle shells are the distinct ribs, and since the ventricles of the human heart resemble in some ways the shape and ribbing of the shells of scallops, we have the expression ‘cockles of the heart’. Certain furnaces are called ‘cockle stoves’ because of their shape, and something that appeals to your deepest feelings is said to ‘warm the cockles of your heart’. Christian pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela, the legendary burial place of St James the Great in northern Spain, have always worn the cockle shell because it is one of the attributes of St James.