What’s your favourite first line?
There seems to be a trend in the book world lately for ‘best first lines’. I first came across this article from the Guardian listing ten of the best opening lines, including of course ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’ Other of my favourites included ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’, and, ‘It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenburgs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.’
There were more to be found on Stylist‘s website here, including ‘What’s it going to be then, eh?‘, ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’ and one which I feel is often overlooked, ‘Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’
Despite these favourites of mine, however, I did feel that most of the books listed were deemed ‘classics’ in some way, and in some cases it was perhaps this ‘classic’ status which mattered, rather than the ingenuity of the first line. For example, I’m not that impressed by ‘In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since’, or ‘Marley was dead, to begin with.’ That’s not to say that the books themselves aren’t fabulous, but the first lines in themselves aren’t exactly the most striking.
So what I’m wondering is, does anyone have any truly fantastic first lines from lesser-known books, which might not make these ‘classic’ lists?
And you might have noticed I didn’t mention any of the book titles for the first lines above – can you guess them all?
Sara Magness, Editorial Administrator