Lately, there have been a number of lists floating around the web of great opening lines from literature. One the basis of these single sentences most people would want to read further. Here I have put together the opening one or two lines of a dozen of my favourite books. While most of them do not have the literary stature of the books on those other lists, all I consider good enough to read more than once.
So, in no particular order –
Christ Recrucified by Nikos Kazantzakis
Sitting on his balcony above the village square, the Agha of Lycovrissi (Wolf’s Fountain) smoked his pipe and sipped raki.
Dissolution by CJ Sansom
I was down in Surrey, in business for Lord Cromwell’s office, when the summons came.
Sun on the Stubble by Colin Thiele
Bruno sat in the car beside his father and stared through the windscreen. They were climbing out of the valley.
Possession: A Romance by AS Byatt
The book was thick and black and covered with dust.
Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden
The Sisters left Darjeeling in the last week of October.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.
The Harp in the South by Ruth Park
The hills are full of Irish people. When their grandfathers and great-grandfathers arrived in Sydney they went naturally to Shanty Town, not because they were dirty or lazy, though many of them were that, but because they were poor.
Soul Catcher by Michael White
Cain had been awakened by the frenzied whinnying of a horse below his window in the street. Still half asleep, his head throbbing and barley soaked, he recalled the dream he’d had of the place called Buena Vista.
The Bodysurfers by Robert Drewe
My father wasn’t in his element in party hats.
Come in Spinner by Dymphna Cusack and Florence James
Angus McFarland stepped out of the private hire car at the main entrance of the Hotel South Pacific and snapped a brusque reply to the commissionaire’s “Good evening, sir.”
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home.
And, finally, one that was my mother’s favourite that I have been meaning to read for quite some time that has a striking opening line.
My Love Must Wait by Ernestine Hill
Dawn came to London Street, a creeping old hag, clawing along the tenement railings, peering through the leaden windows at slovenly litter of living.