There are some “first lines” that grab me, they probably grab you too. Here is a not too long list of some first lines in novels that have sparked a response in me. Are any of them speaking to you? If so leave a comment, I’d love to know what you think. My commentary will be in parenthesis, But I’m happy to discuss your comments. Maybe you have another “first line” that speaks to you.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1813), Jane Austen
”It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”( Jane and I are SO on the same page here.)
A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1859), Charles Dickens
”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” (Life doesn’t change much from one century to the next.)
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. – William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984) (I love this visual.)
A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. – Graham Greene, The End of the Affair (1951)(Where would you start your story? Mine would start the first day of first grade when I went to a one room school house. I kid you not.)
Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. – Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups (2001) (OMG! Anne Tyler speaks of all of us at one point or other in our lives.)
“Take my camel, dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass. – Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond (1956) (Gotta love anyone named Dot with a camel.)
Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. – Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye (1988) (listen here Margaret, I’m still trying to wrap my head around E=MC2)
Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women. Charles R. Johnson, Middle Passage (Once again women being blamed because men are jerks.)
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (What would I think of in his position? Probably what I’ve left undone.)
All children, except one, grow up. Peter Pan (1911), J.M. Barrie (if only this were true.)
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952), C. S. Lewis (The names some people give kids, amazing, Apple?, Moonbeam?, Rumor?)
“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
Little Women (1868), Louisa May Alcott (my sentiments precisely!!)