Where to Begin?

 
"That's torn it!" said Lord Peter Wimsey. 
 
A great start for a great book, featuring a character dear to many of us — and it's pretty obvious to many if not most of us that it's a Dorothy Sayers mystery, but which one? OK –The Nine Tailors.
 

Christine de pisan So here I sit, nearing the end of a manuscript and thinking ahead not only to the closing chapters and closing line of the book (which I don't generally figure out ahead of time, I like to be surprised) … and I'm also looking ahead to the next book (which I do think about, much more than the spontaneous seat-of-the-pants ending phase). Part of my brain has already started writing that one, and the next after that and so on. I'm thinking about coming up with a great, intriguing, punchy or at least -interesting- opening line for the next book.  
 

What makes an opening line really successful? That proverbial hook, of course – the elements that pull you into the story, catch your attention, tap your emotion or stir your curiosity … the thing that makes you want to read on to the next sentence, next paragraph, next page and chapter….
 
Dunrobin castle library Sometimes a great opening line will contain the whole of the book, when one looks back, and those are often most memorable. An opening line might tell you about character, situation, setting or author voice – do you want to read about this person, know more about the situation, visit that setting … or is it just the power of the author voice, or the mystery of a story still untold, that pulls you in like a fish on a, well, hook?
 
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. – 

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

 
For some books, the opening sentence, separated from its author or title, is still a total giveaway (for those of us who read historical fiction and classic and historical fiction anyway, which is most of us here at Word Wenches):
 
Peter Blood, bachelor of medicine and several other things besides, smoked a pipe and tended the geraniums boxed on the sill of his window above Water Lane in the town of Bridgewater.
— Captain Blood, Rafael Sabatini
 
Others not so much, even if the books are as familiar as a favorite old sweatshirt:
 
It was a dark and stormy night. — A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle
    Did you remember that this wonderful book, which we've probably all read a zillion times, actually started that way? I didn't, until I pulled it off the shelf.
 
Here are a few opening lines. Take a crack at guessing them  — I know you're going to google away, and you may find some there, but not all of them … I will give away a signed book (Susan King or Sarah Gabriel) to someone chosen at random who gets them all correct. If no one gets them all right, I'll choose a name from those who get the most correct … between now and Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET, when I'll post the answers.
 
LordLeighton, the Maid with Golden Hair 1895 They're not that hard – I'm sure you've read most if not all of them, you may know author voice straight away, or recognize character or setting or situation … you may have the books sitting on your shelves. I chose lines from books that I think the majority of us will be familiar with, and hopefully that's the case. There's a variety here: historical fiction, fiction classics, mystery and romance. Some are way too easy, a couple of them not so simple… 

 
1. It is a curious thing that at my age, fifty-five last birthday, I should find myself taking up a pen to try and write a history.
 

2. When the girl came rushing up the steps, I decided she was wearing far too many clothes. 
 
3. It was the egret, flying out of the lemon grove, that started it. 
 

4. It began in the old and golden days of England, in a time when all the hedgerows were green and the roads dusty, when hawthorn and wild roses bloomed, when big-bellied landlords brewed rich October ale at a penny a pint for rakish high-booted cavaliers with jingling spurs and long rapiers, when squires ate roast beef and belched and damned the Dutch over their claret until their faithful hounds slumbered on the rushes by the hearth, when summers were long and warm and drowsy, with honeysuckle and hollyhocks by cottage walls, when winter nights were clear and sharp with frost-rimmed moons shining in the silent snow, and Claude Duval and Swift Nick Nevison lurked in the bosky thickets, teeth gleaming beneath their masks as they hear the rumble of coaches bearing paunchy well-lined nabobs and bright-eyed ladies with powdered hair who would gladly tread a measure by the wayside with the gallant tobyman, and bestow a kiss to save their husbands' guineas, an England where good King Charles lounged amiably on his throne and scandalised Mr Pepys (or was it Mr Evelyn?) by climbing walls to ogle Pretty Nell; where gallants roisted and diced away their fathers' fortunes; where beaming yokels in spotless smocks made hay in the sunshine and ate bread and cheese and quaffed foaming tankards….  (this one goes on for another half page, so this is half the opening sentence!)
 
5. On a certain afternoon, in the late springtime, the bell upon Tunstall Moat House was heard ringing at an unaccustomed hour.
 
6. A gentleman was strolling down a side street in Paris, on his way back from the house of one Madame de Verchoureux.

7. The lad had the deep, burning eyes of a zealot.

8. I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father's house.

9. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.

So there you go, just a few novel beginnings — what's your favorite opening line in a novel?

Good luck and have fun!  Answers on Tuesday evening – a random winner gets a signed book!

Susan Sarah, diving back into the WIP…

 

80 thoughts on “Where to Begin?”

  1. Well, I don’t know most of those opening lines, and I don’t know that I know my favourite verbatim but it goes something like this: “to say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body would be inaccurate. Edward was still twitching at the time”. (Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourne)

    Reply
  2. Well, I don’t know most of those opening lines, and I don’t know that I know my favourite verbatim but it goes something like this: “to say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body would be inaccurate. Edward was still twitching at the time”. (Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourne)

    Reply
  3. Well, I don’t know most of those opening lines, and I don’t know that I know my favourite verbatim but it goes something like this: “to say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body would be inaccurate. Edward was still twitching at the time”. (Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourne)

    Reply
  4. Well, I don’t know most of those opening lines, and I don’t know that I know my favourite verbatim but it goes something like this: “to say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body would be inaccurate. Edward was still twitching at the time”. (Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourne)

    Reply
  5. Well, I don’t know most of those opening lines, and I don’t know that I know my favourite verbatim but it goes something like this: “to say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body would be inaccurate. Edward was still twitching at the time”. (Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourne)

    Reply
  6. I didn’t recognise any of them apart from Number 6, which is from Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades.
    “I know you’re going to google away, and you may find some there, but not all of them”
    There’s no need to put me in the contest for the book, but that sounded like a challenge, so I went off to test the powers of Google and I did find all of them:
    1) King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard.
    2) The Silver Pigs, by Lindsey Davis.
    3) The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart.
    4) The Pyrates, by George MacDonald Fraser.
    5) The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    6) These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer.
    7) The Prince of Midnight, by Laura Kinsale.
    8) Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    9) I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith.

    Reply
  7. I didn’t recognise any of them apart from Number 6, which is from Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades.
    “I know you’re going to google away, and you may find some there, but not all of them”
    There’s no need to put me in the contest for the book, but that sounded like a challenge, so I went off to test the powers of Google and I did find all of them:
    1) King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard.
    2) The Silver Pigs, by Lindsey Davis.
    3) The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart.
    4) The Pyrates, by George MacDonald Fraser.
    5) The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    6) These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer.
    7) The Prince of Midnight, by Laura Kinsale.
    8) Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    9) I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith.

    Reply
  8. I didn’t recognise any of them apart from Number 6, which is from Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades.
    “I know you’re going to google away, and you may find some there, but not all of them”
    There’s no need to put me in the contest for the book, but that sounded like a challenge, so I went off to test the powers of Google and I did find all of them:
    1) King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard.
    2) The Silver Pigs, by Lindsey Davis.
    3) The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart.
    4) The Pyrates, by George MacDonald Fraser.
    5) The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    6) These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer.
    7) The Prince of Midnight, by Laura Kinsale.
    8) Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    9) I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith.

    Reply
  9. I didn’t recognise any of them apart from Number 6, which is from Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades.
    “I know you’re going to google away, and you may find some there, but not all of them”
    There’s no need to put me in the contest for the book, but that sounded like a challenge, so I went off to test the powers of Google and I did find all of them:
    1) King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard.
    2) The Silver Pigs, by Lindsey Davis.
    3) The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart.
    4) The Pyrates, by George MacDonald Fraser.
    5) The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    6) These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer.
    7) The Prince of Midnight, by Laura Kinsale.
    8) Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    9) I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith.

    Reply
  10. I didn’t recognise any of them apart from Number 6, which is from Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades.
    “I know you’re going to google away, and you may find some there, but not all of them”
    There’s no need to put me in the contest for the book, but that sounded like a challenge, so I went off to test the powers of Google and I did find all of them:
    1) King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard.
    2) The Silver Pigs, by Lindsey Davis.
    3) The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart.
    4) The Pyrates, by George MacDonald Fraser.
    5) The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    6) These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer.
    7) The Prince of Midnight, by Laura Kinsale.
    8) Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    9) I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith.

    Reply
  11. It goes like this :
    “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
    Come on…that’s gotta be the best opening line(s) in recent memory. Maybe ever.

    Reply
  12. It goes like this :
    “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
    Come on…that’s gotta be the best opening line(s) in recent memory. Maybe ever.

    Reply
  13. It goes like this :
    “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
    Come on…that’s gotta be the best opening line(s) in recent memory. Maybe ever.

    Reply
  14. It goes like this :
    “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
    Come on…that’s gotta be the best opening line(s) in recent memory. Maybe ever.

    Reply
  15. It goes like this :
    “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
    Come on…that’s gotta be the best opening line(s) in recent memory. Maybe ever.

    Reply
  16. I can honestly say, I recognize not a one of those opening lines. But, I do like “The lad had the deep, burning eyes of a zealot”. Creates many possibilities — dangerous passion, dangerous lover, hell-bent soldier. Would even be more interesting if the lad were a lass.
    As writer and reader, the opening line is where it’s at for me. My current favorite I found while serving as a contest judge. I think it was “The stick was pink.”

    Reply
  17. I can honestly say, I recognize not a one of those opening lines. But, I do like “The lad had the deep, burning eyes of a zealot”. Creates many possibilities — dangerous passion, dangerous lover, hell-bent soldier. Would even be more interesting if the lad were a lass.
    As writer and reader, the opening line is where it’s at for me. My current favorite I found while serving as a contest judge. I think it was “The stick was pink.”

    Reply
  18. I can honestly say, I recognize not a one of those opening lines. But, I do like “The lad had the deep, burning eyes of a zealot”. Creates many possibilities — dangerous passion, dangerous lover, hell-bent soldier. Would even be more interesting if the lad were a lass.
    As writer and reader, the opening line is where it’s at for me. My current favorite I found while serving as a contest judge. I think it was “The stick was pink.”

    Reply
  19. I can honestly say, I recognize not a one of those opening lines. But, I do like “The lad had the deep, burning eyes of a zealot”. Creates many possibilities — dangerous passion, dangerous lover, hell-bent soldier. Would even be more interesting if the lad were a lass.
    As writer and reader, the opening line is where it’s at for me. My current favorite I found while serving as a contest judge. I think it was “The stick was pink.”

    Reply
  20. I can honestly say, I recognize not a one of those opening lines. But, I do like “The lad had the deep, burning eyes of a zealot”. Creates many possibilities — dangerous passion, dangerous lover, hell-bent soldier. Would even be more interesting if the lad were a lass.
    As writer and reader, the opening line is where it’s at for me. My current favorite I found while serving as a contest judge. I think it was “The stick was pink.”

    Reply
  21. On my own the only ones I recognized were the opening lines of the Heyer and Smith books, even though I’ve read several of the others. Must point out that “It was a dark and stormy night” was not original to L’Engle, as it’s the opening line to a Bulwer-Lytton novel and the inspiration for the annual B-L bad prose contest.
    Love the Raybourn line and often quote it as one of my favorites. Rafael Sabatini’s “Scaramouche” has a great opening line that tells you much of what you will discover about the hero in the course of the book: “He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” Diana Norman has a wonderful opening to her “The Vizard Mask”: “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day.” You know immediately that you are about to begin an adventure that will cover Life, Death, and everything in between.

    Reply
  22. On my own the only ones I recognized were the opening lines of the Heyer and Smith books, even though I’ve read several of the others. Must point out that “It was a dark and stormy night” was not original to L’Engle, as it’s the opening line to a Bulwer-Lytton novel and the inspiration for the annual B-L bad prose contest.
    Love the Raybourn line and often quote it as one of my favorites. Rafael Sabatini’s “Scaramouche” has a great opening line that tells you much of what you will discover about the hero in the course of the book: “He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” Diana Norman has a wonderful opening to her “The Vizard Mask”: “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day.” You know immediately that you are about to begin an adventure that will cover Life, Death, and everything in between.

    Reply
  23. On my own the only ones I recognized were the opening lines of the Heyer and Smith books, even though I’ve read several of the others. Must point out that “It was a dark and stormy night” was not original to L’Engle, as it’s the opening line to a Bulwer-Lytton novel and the inspiration for the annual B-L bad prose contest.
    Love the Raybourn line and often quote it as one of my favorites. Rafael Sabatini’s “Scaramouche” has a great opening line that tells you much of what you will discover about the hero in the course of the book: “He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” Diana Norman has a wonderful opening to her “The Vizard Mask”: “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day.” You know immediately that you are about to begin an adventure that will cover Life, Death, and everything in between.

    Reply
  24. On my own the only ones I recognized were the opening lines of the Heyer and Smith books, even though I’ve read several of the others. Must point out that “It was a dark and stormy night” was not original to L’Engle, as it’s the opening line to a Bulwer-Lytton novel and the inspiration for the annual B-L bad prose contest.
    Love the Raybourn line and often quote it as one of my favorites. Rafael Sabatini’s “Scaramouche” has a great opening line that tells you much of what you will discover about the hero in the course of the book: “He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” Diana Norman has a wonderful opening to her “The Vizard Mask”: “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day.” You know immediately that you are about to begin an adventure that will cover Life, Death, and everything in between.

    Reply
  25. On my own the only ones I recognized were the opening lines of the Heyer and Smith books, even though I’ve read several of the others. Must point out that “It was a dark and stormy night” was not original to L’Engle, as it’s the opening line to a Bulwer-Lytton novel and the inspiration for the annual B-L bad prose contest.
    Love the Raybourn line and often quote it as one of my favorites. Rafael Sabatini’s “Scaramouche” has a great opening line that tells you much of what you will discover about the hero in the course of the book: “He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” Diana Norman has a wonderful opening to her “The Vizard Mask”: “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day.” You know immediately that you are about to begin an adventure that will cover Life, Death, and everything in between.

    Reply
  26. I recognized #3, #6, and #9–all books I have read and reread often. I googled the rest and found them all.
    Among my favorite first lines are:
    When the rooster crowed, the moon had still not left the world but was going down on flushed cheek, one day short of the full.
    Losing Battles, Eudora Welty
    We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.
    A Death in the Family, James Agee
    I told the insurance company I was sleeping when the house blew up.
    Madame Mirabou’s School of Love, Barbara Samuel

    Reply
  27. I recognized #3, #6, and #9–all books I have read and reread often. I googled the rest and found them all.
    Among my favorite first lines are:
    When the rooster crowed, the moon had still not left the world but was going down on flushed cheek, one day short of the full.
    Losing Battles, Eudora Welty
    We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.
    A Death in the Family, James Agee
    I told the insurance company I was sleeping when the house blew up.
    Madame Mirabou’s School of Love, Barbara Samuel

    Reply
  28. I recognized #3, #6, and #9–all books I have read and reread often. I googled the rest and found them all.
    Among my favorite first lines are:
    When the rooster crowed, the moon had still not left the world but was going down on flushed cheek, one day short of the full.
    Losing Battles, Eudora Welty
    We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.
    A Death in the Family, James Agee
    I told the insurance company I was sleeping when the house blew up.
    Madame Mirabou’s School of Love, Barbara Samuel

    Reply
  29. I recognized #3, #6, and #9–all books I have read and reread often. I googled the rest and found them all.
    Among my favorite first lines are:
    When the rooster crowed, the moon had still not left the world but was going down on flushed cheek, one day short of the full.
    Losing Battles, Eudora Welty
    We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.
    A Death in the Family, James Agee
    I told the insurance company I was sleeping when the house blew up.
    Madame Mirabou’s School of Love, Barbara Samuel

    Reply
  30. I recognized #3, #6, and #9–all books I have read and reread often. I googled the rest and found them all.
    Among my favorite first lines are:
    When the rooster crowed, the moon had still not left the world but was going down on flushed cheek, one day short of the full.
    Losing Battles, Eudora Welty
    We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.
    A Death in the Family, James Agee
    I told the insurance company I was sleeping when the house blew up.
    Madame Mirabou’s School of Love, Barbara Samuel

    Reply
  31. I’m glad that as a Wench I’m not eligible, since I would have done very badly on that quiz without google!
    A good opening line is a lovely bit of bait for the hook. And Nina, without digging out my copy of the Prince of Midnight, I think that the lad is indeed a lass. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  32. I’m glad that as a Wench I’m not eligible, since I would have done very badly on that quiz without google!
    A good opening line is a lovely bit of bait for the hook. And Nina, without digging out my copy of the Prince of Midnight, I think that the lad is indeed a lass. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  33. I’m glad that as a Wench I’m not eligible, since I would have done very badly on that quiz without google!
    A good opening line is a lovely bit of bait for the hook. And Nina, without digging out my copy of the Prince of Midnight, I think that the lad is indeed a lass. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  34. I’m glad that as a Wench I’m not eligible, since I would have done very badly on that quiz without google!
    A good opening line is a lovely bit of bait for the hook. And Nina, without digging out my copy of the Prince of Midnight, I think that the lad is indeed a lass. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  35. I’m glad that as a Wench I’m not eligible, since I would have done very badly on that quiz without google!
    A good opening line is a lovely bit of bait for the hook. And Nina, without digging out my copy of the Prince of Midnight, I think that the lad is indeed a lass. 🙂
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  36. I was going to cite the opening line of Scarmouche, but someone beat me to it.
    Some other contributions:
    I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him.
    Laurie King-The Beekeepers Apprentice
    I make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld the Truth is a matter of the imagination.
    Ursula Le Guin- The left hand of Darkness.
    I’m afraid I recognized only the Mary Stewart.
    I find myself choosing books with opening lines that contain the author or the character’s thoughts or voice, and some hints of humor.
    Merry

    Reply
  37. I was going to cite the opening line of Scarmouche, but someone beat me to it.
    Some other contributions:
    I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him.
    Laurie King-The Beekeepers Apprentice
    I make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld the Truth is a matter of the imagination.
    Ursula Le Guin- The left hand of Darkness.
    I’m afraid I recognized only the Mary Stewart.
    I find myself choosing books with opening lines that contain the author or the character’s thoughts or voice, and some hints of humor.
    Merry

    Reply
  38. I was going to cite the opening line of Scarmouche, but someone beat me to it.
    Some other contributions:
    I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him.
    Laurie King-The Beekeepers Apprentice
    I make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld the Truth is a matter of the imagination.
    Ursula Le Guin- The left hand of Darkness.
    I’m afraid I recognized only the Mary Stewart.
    I find myself choosing books with opening lines that contain the author or the character’s thoughts or voice, and some hints of humor.
    Merry

    Reply
  39. I was going to cite the opening line of Scarmouche, but someone beat me to it.
    Some other contributions:
    I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him.
    Laurie King-The Beekeepers Apprentice
    I make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld the Truth is a matter of the imagination.
    Ursula Le Guin- The left hand of Darkness.
    I’m afraid I recognized only the Mary Stewart.
    I find myself choosing books with opening lines that contain the author or the character’s thoughts or voice, and some hints of humor.
    Merry

    Reply
  40. I was going to cite the opening line of Scarmouche, but someone beat me to it.
    Some other contributions:
    I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him.
    Laurie King-The Beekeepers Apprentice
    I make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld the Truth is a matter of the imagination.
    Ursula Le Guin- The left hand of Darkness.
    I’m afraid I recognized only the Mary Stewart.
    I find myself choosing books with opening lines that contain the author or the character’s thoughts or voice, and some hints of humor.
    Merry

    Reply
  41. One more– of course— there is the great opening line of “I Claudius”:
    I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled.
    Merry

    Reply
  42. One more– of course— there is the great opening line of “I Claudius”:
    I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled.
    Merry

    Reply
  43. One more– of course— there is the great opening line of “I Claudius”:
    I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled.
    Merry

    Reply
  44. One more– of course— there is the great opening line of “I Claudius”:
    I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled.
    Merry

    Reply
  45. One more– of course— there is the great opening line of “I Claudius”:
    I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled.
    Merry

    Reply
  46. Nobody has mentioned “It was the best of times,, it was the worst of time, etc.”?
    I’ve always liked the start of Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    Reply
  47. Nobody has mentioned “It was the best of times,, it was the worst of time, etc.”?
    I’ve always liked the start of Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    Reply
  48. Nobody has mentioned “It was the best of times,, it was the worst of time, etc.”?
    I’ve always liked the start of Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    Reply
  49. Nobody has mentioned “It was the best of times,, it was the worst of time, etc.”?
    I’ve always liked the start of Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    Reply
  50. Nobody has mentioned “It was the best of times,, it was the worst of time, etc.”?
    I’ve always liked the start of Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    Reply
  51. Two of my favourite opening lines come from different books by the same author.
    “On the day that his grannie was killed by the English, Sir William Scott the Younger of Buccleuch was at Melrose Abbey, marrying his aunt.”
    and
    “Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin.”

    Reply
  52. Two of my favourite opening lines come from different books by the same author.
    “On the day that his grannie was killed by the English, Sir William Scott the Younger of Buccleuch was at Melrose Abbey, marrying his aunt.”
    and
    “Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin.”

    Reply
  53. Two of my favourite opening lines come from different books by the same author.
    “On the day that his grannie was killed by the English, Sir William Scott the Younger of Buccleuch was at Melrose Abbey, marrying his aunt.”
    and
    “Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin.”

    Reply
  54. Two of my favourite opening lines come from different books by the same author.
    “On the day that his grannie was killed by the English, Sir William Scott the Younger of Buccleuch was at Melrose Abbey, marrying his aunt.”
    and
    “Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin.”

    Reply
  55. Two of my favourite opening lines come from different books by the same author.
    “On the day that his grannie was killed by the English, Sir William Scott the Younger of Buccleuch was at Melrose Abbey, marrying his aunt.”
    and
    “Not to every young girl is it given to enter the harem of the Sultan of Turkey and return to her homeland a virgin.”

    Reply
  56. Ah Caroline, another DD fan!
    How about this one, another from Laura Kinsale?
    “It was hell being a hero.”
    & my favourite Marsha Canham –
    “It was a fine night for treachery – dark with a pale moon rising.”

    Reply
  57. Ah Caroline, another DD fan!
    How about this one, another from Laura Kinsale?
    “It was hell being a hero.”
    & my favourite Marsha Canham –
    “It was a fine night for treachery – dark with a pale moon rising.”

    Reply
  58. Ah Caroline, another DD fan!
    How about this one, another from Laura Kinsale?
    “It was hell being a hero.”
    & my favourite Marsha Canham –
    “It was a fine night for treachery – dark with a pale moon rising.”

    Reply
  59. Ah Caroline, another DD fan!
    How about this one, another from Laura Kinsale?
    “It was hell being a hero.”
    & my favourite Marsha Canham –
    “It was a fine night for treachery – dark with a pale moon rising.”

    Reply
  60. Ah Caroline, another DD fan!
    How about this one, another from Laura Kinsale?
    “It was hell being a hero.”
    & my favourite Marsha Canham –
    “It was a fine night for treachery – dark with a pale moon rising.”

    Reply
  61. Here is one of mine.
    “Justice, O God, upon mine enemy.
    This is from “Martin Conisby’s Vengence” by Jeffery Farnol, an oldie from the 20s.
    I recognized the one from “These Old Shades”. I’ve read five of the books, but that’s the only one I remembered.

    Reply
  62. Here is one of mine.
    “Justice, O God, upon mine enemy.
    This is from “Martin Conisby’s Vengence” by Jeffery Farnol, an oldie from the 20s.
    I recognized the one from “These Old Shades”. I’ve read five of the books, but that’s the only one I remembered.

    Reply
  63. Here is one of mine.
    “Justice, O God, upon mine enemy.
    This is from “Martin Conisby’s Vengence” by Jeffery Farnol, an oldie from the 20s.
    I recognized the one from “These Old Shades”. I’ve read five of the books, but that’s the only one I remembered.

    Reply
  64. Here is one of mine.
    “Justice, O God, upon mine enemy.
    This is from “Martin Conisby’s Vengence” by Jeffery Farnol, an oldie from the 20s.
    I recognized the one from “These Old Shades”. I’ve read five of the books, but that’s the only one I remembered.

    Reply
  65. Here is one of mine.
    “Justice, O God, upon mine enemy.
    This is from “Martin Conisby’s Vengence” by Jeffery Farnol, an oldie from the 20s.
    I recognized the one from “These Old Shades”. I’ve read five of the books, but that’s the only one I remembered.

    Reply
  66. I rather like:
    “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
    An opening that hooked me on an entire series was:
    “My name is Holly Winter. It’s not my fault. Until I was born, my parents, or, as they always said, my sire and dam, hadn’t had any experience in naming people.”
    (A New Leash on Death by Susan Conant.)
    I only recognized the Heyer quote. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of the others.

    Reply
  67. I rather like:
    “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
    An opening that hooked me on an entire series was:
    “My name is Holly Winter. It’s not my fault. Until I was born, my parents, or, as they always said, my sire and dam, hadn’t had any experience in naming people.”
    (A New Leash on Death by Susan Conant.)
    I only recognized the Heyer quote. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of the others.

    Reply
  68. I rather like:
    “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
    An opening that hooked me on an entire series was:
    “My name is Holly Winter. It’s not my fault. Until I was born, my parents, or, as they always said, my sire and dam, hadn’t had any experience in naming people.”
    (A New Leash on Death by Susan Conant.)
    I only recognized the Heyer quote. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of the others.

    Reply
  69. I rather like:
    “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
    An opening that hooked me on an entire series was:
    “My name is Holly Winter. It’s not my fault. Until I was born, my parents, or, as they always said, my sire and dam, hadn’t had any experience in naming people.”
    (A New Leash on Death by Susan Conant.)
    I only recognized the Heyer quote. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of the others.

    Reply
  70. I rather like:
    “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
    An opening that hooked me on an entire series was:
    “My name is Holly Winter. It’s not my fault. Until I was born, my parents, or, as they always said, my sire and dam, hadn’t had any experience in naming people.”
    (A New Leash on Death by Susan Conant.)
    I only recognized the Heyer quote. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of the others.

    Reply
  71. I too would fare very badly trying to do this without google, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying! I recognised the Mary Stewart,the Dodie Smith, the Heyer and the Stevenson.
    Merry, I agree that the I,Claudius first line is one of the all time greats. One of my other favourite first lines is the one Susan mentioned:
    Penitence Hurd and the Plague arrived in London on the same day.
    Fabulous!

    Reply
  72. I too would fare very badly trying to do this without google, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying! I recognised the Mary Stewart,the Dodie Smith, the Heyer and the Stevenson.
    Merry, I agree that the I,Claudius first line is one of the all time greats. One of my other favourite first lines is the one Susan mentioned:
    Penitence Hurd and the Plague arrived in London on the same day.
    Fabulous!

    Reply
  73. I too would fare very badly trying to do this without google, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying! I recognised the Mary Stewart,the Dodie Smith, the Heyer and the Stevenson.
    Merry, I agree that the I,Claudius first line is one of the all time greats. One of my other favourite first lines is the one Susan mentioned:
    Penitence Hurd and the Plague arrived in London on the same day.
    Fabulous!

    Reply
  74. I too would fare very badly trying to do this without google, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying! I recognised the Mary Stewart,the Dodie Smith, the Heyer and the Stevenson.
    Merry, I agree that the I,Claudius first line is one of the all time greats. One of my other favourite first lines is the one Susan mentioned:
    Penitence Hurd and the Plague arrived in London on the same day.
    Fabulous!

    Reply
  75. I too would fare very badly trying to do this without google, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying! I recognised the Mary Stewart,the Dodie Smith, the Heyer and the Stevenson.
    Merry, I agree that the I,Claudius first line is one of the all time greats. One of my other favourite first lines is the one Susan mentioned:
    Penitence Hurd and the Plague arrived in London on the same day.
    Fabulous!

    Reply

Leave a Comment