Whether it is the opening line, the first paragraph or the first few pages, the beginning of a story must draw a reader in, entice her or him to read on, to sink deep into the world the writer has created.
Each of the following books opens in different way be it philosophical musing, lyrical evocation of time and place, gripping imagery or intriguing foreshadowing of the later story.
All of these are excellent books that I have read in the past year.
The Watermelon Boys by Ruqaya Izzidien
The present is an arrogant time in which to live, always has been. Humans of the present look back at their people, land, and history, and whisper to themselves with glee, We are not them. But we were always them. We are our history; we are the crimes of our ancestors. And we wait, mouths agape, to hear tales of hope, as though good could triumph in such a world.
Shell by Kristina Olsson
The day the great man sang, heat blazed in haloes over Bennelong Point. This is what Pearl will remember, later, this is what she will say: that his voice turned the air holy. Men, sweat-slicked, stood with bowed heads or hung off scaffolds, swatting at flies and tears. Few looked at the singer; they needed all their senses to hear. Needed their whole bodies, skin and eyes and hearts, to absorb what they couldn’t say: that sacredness had returned to this place. It flowed through them on a single human voice, through their bodies and the building that was rising beneath their hands.
The Women in Black by Madeleine St John
At the end of a hot November day Miss Baines and Mrs Williams of the Ladies’ Frocks Department at Goode’s were complaining to each other while they changed out of their black frocks before going home.
‘Mr Ryder’s not so bad,’ said Miss Baines with reference to the floor manager; ‘it’s that Miss Cartwright who’s a pain in the neck, if you’ll excuse my French.’
The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements
I was born with blood on my hands.
I killed my mother on the 22nd of August, in the year 1642, the day the first King Charles turned traitor and chose a battlefield over a throne. She was not murdered by musket shot or slaughtered by steel blade, as were so many during those years of war. Hers was a woman’s fate. She died in blood – the blood that bore me in on its tide.
The Good People by Hannah Kent
Nóra’s first thought when they brought her the body was that it could not be her husband’s. For one long moment she stared at the men bearing Martin’s weight on their sweating shoulders, standing in the gasping cold, and believed that the body was nothing but a cruel imitation; a changeling, brutal in its likeness. Martin’s mouth and eyes were open, his head slumped on his chest and there was no quick in him. The blacksmith and the ploughman had brought her a lifeless stock. It could not be her husband. It was not him at all.