Isn't that a great first line of a novel? Welcome to today's blog topic: great first sentences in literature. This idea came to me today when I was desperately trying to enliven something I'm writing about monetary policy. A topic that desperately needs a jolt -- or 10 -- of colour. That will never happen, alas.
But, just for my own amusement, I thought I'd play around with the most wonderful, perfect opening sentence, from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Then, I thought, put a monetary policy twist to it. But I knew it would never stand, so I gave up my little dream.
However, in Googling to find the quotation to get the wording right, I came across a collection of first sentences in literature from what seems to be a New Zealand website: Bookclub.co.nz.
It has pulled together a wonderful collection, some old favourites ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ....." A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens) and some new, and hilarious. Take this opening sentence, which would certainly pull me into this novel:
"On the third day of their honeymoon, infamous environmental activist Stewie Woods and his new bride Annabel Bellotti were spiking trees in the forest when a cow exploded and blew them up. Until then, their marriage had been happy."
I also laughed aloud at this sentence; I had read this novel years ago and now want to go back and re-read:
"I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Harbine's father over the top of the Standard Oil sign."
The Bean Trees
Anyway, here are just a few others for our general amusement. Isn't literature wonderful?
"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person."
Back When we Were Grownups
"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last..."
"My mother was a virgin, trust me..."
"They're all dead now."
Fall on Your Knees
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me".
Daphne du Maurier
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."
The Lovely Bones
"It was the day my grandmother exploded."
The Crow Road