I’ve been thinking about Fridays. As regular readers know, on Fridays I normally post my own writing. Which is fun, but I think I want to mix it up with a new feature. Book reviews are normally a drill-down focus on one book (or series or author). But sometimes I want to do a round-up of several favorites of something…favorite characters, favorite opening lines, favorite paintings that plainly have a story in them (most of my favorite paintings are like that!) Because I have a thing for alliteration, I’m going to start doing Favorites Friday. I’ll still do Fiction Friday too, but I want to do a mix of both. And by all means, let me know your preferences too!
To start us off, why not begin at the beginning? Favorite opening lines.
“All children, except one, grow up.”
—Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie
Six words, yet it’s all there. The tragic thread throughout, especially at the end, of children growing up and changing and leaving (“tragic” seems to be Barrie’s feeling on it). The magic of one child who defies this most basic convention. And the poetry and charm of Barrie’s writing.
“I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now–which is ridiculous, since he’s been dead for ninety years. But look at it this way. In ninety years I’ll be dead, too, and the age difference won’t matter.”
—The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Brilliant, funny, and I love the way she talks about him simultaneously as both a distant historical figure, and as someone immediately present in her life–which is how Titus is throughout the book.
“If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling’s whole life would have been entirely different.”
–-The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery
And now you have to keep reading to find out why, right?
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
—Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
I can’t analyze for you why I like this so much–but somehow it’s got into my head and when I read it I want to sigh and say, oh yes, Manderley…
And speaking of sighing:
“Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it.”
—Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
Which is Discworld in a nutshell. And Sam too, for that matter. Rather world-weary but still going about his business as head of the Night Watch. In this case, tending to a would-be assassin who has fallen into his booby trap. I don’t think anyone handles “oh bother, another assassin” quite like Pratchett–and makes it funny!
What are some other great opening lines? I’d love to hear your favorites!
8 thoughts on “New Feature: Favorites Friday – Opening Lines”
Those were some great opening lines. My two personal favorites: “There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it,” from Voyage of the Dawn Treader by Clive Staples Lewis, who, some people think, was poking fun at his own name; and “Scarlet O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom noticed that,” from a book that doesn’t really need to be identified, and sums up the protagonist in a nutshell.
That Narnia one cracks me up.
Excellent ones, both. I almost included Gone with the Wind myself.
I’m usually not too struck by opening lines, but I recently reread The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and this one is rather good:
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”
Totally sets the tone for the rest of this crazy adventure. I don’t particularly like any other form of this story, and I think it must be Douglas Adams’s writing style that makes me so love the books.
Isn’t Douglas Adams wonderful? 🙂 It’s the casual understatement of absurdity, perhaps…well, whatever it is, he’s just marvelously funny!
“Casual understatement of absurdity.”
I like that!
I like the comical element to McCaughrean’s quote – and there is something so true about it, too. The first line to Rebecca is lyrical. The way the syllables fall just draws you in. Good choices.
You’re right! It’s lyrical! It’s a very lyrical book too; I love du Maurier’s writing style in Rebecca.