My Top Ten Favourite Opening Lines In Literature

Morning everyone! 

So, I’ve been thinking about this post in the back of my mind for a while now as it’s something I really wanted to do, and it’s another perfect opportunity for people to take part with their own ideas also. 

We all have our favourite novels, characters, writers, genre etc, but sometimes we can experience that same ‘wow’ feeling just from an opening line. There’s even some novels I’m not a massive fan of, but there are lines within them that I just think are perfection. As author Richard Peck said “You’re only as good as your opening line.”

Just to say, these aren’t in any sort of order, just what came to me first on my lazy Sunday morning, with a little explanation of why I picked them. I hope you enjoy them! 

1.

“How on earth could I have let them talk me into it?”

The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George

This was one of the books I got for my birthday and what a cracker of an opening line. We’ve all been there. We’ve all asked ourselves that very question. I’ve got a review of this book to write up soon as well. 

  
2.

‘Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’ 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

I always ponder over whether or not Ms Rowling actually knew what a worldwide phenomenon this was going to become, or how many people she would inspire. 

  
3.

‘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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.’

A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens 

This is probably one of the most famous opening lines, and what a line it is. It is a paradox, representing the period of time during the French Revolution. I have a slight confession, I’ve never read this book, and yet I know the opening lines off by heart. 

  
4.

“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green 

This opening line raises numerous questions, especially why a 17 year old is contemplating her own mortality. This book is tragic and heartwarming at the same time. I found Hazel and Augustus, two incredibly inspirational characters. 

  
5.

‘In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”.’

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

So, I may have cheated here and given the first two lines, but you really need both of them. Regardless of the novel (which I LOVE), this advice is useful to everyone. Personally, I believe that this advice is as relevant today as it was during Fitzgerald’s time. Gatsby is one of my all time favourite pieces of writing. 

  
6. 

‘The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.’

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde 

I studied Oscar Wilde at university and immediately fell in love. His way with language, how he creates stunning description, his comments on society, is an art. If I close my eyes I can visualise this scene. It’s almost unbelievable that this book was used in the trial against him that ultimately sent him to prison. 

  
7.

‘Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: one or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, and what is the use of a book, thought Alice, without pictures or conversation?’ 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

And so unlocked the doors to a world of magic and mystery. A world where it is perfectly acceptable to be different and quirky. Every young girl has always wanted to be Alice, and I am no exception. I always got annoyed that I wasn’t pretty and blonde like the Alice in the Disney film. 

  
8. 

‘It was as if a curtain had fallen, hiding everything I had ever known.’

Voyage in the Dark – Jean Rhys

For me, Jean Rhys is an unsung heroine of the mid-twentieth century. She writes about the treatment of women, the pain they suffer physically and mentally and how men act towards them. I met her through reading Wide Sargasso Sea, where she gives Bronte’s Bertha from Jane Eyre a voice. 

  
9.

“Who am I? And how, I wonder, will this story end?”

The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

Again, I’ve been naughty because I’ve used the first two lines, but, this novel is magical. Everyone deserves a love like this in their lives. Truly breathtaking. 

  
10.

‘Dora Greenfield left her husband because she was afraid of him.’

The Bell – Iris Murdoch

I studied this text for my A levels and it was like a new world had opened up. I remember reading it on a sun lounger on holiday in Cyprus. I can see this image like it was yesterday (despite it being 7 years ago!) I don’t have that memory of the details of reading a book for many others. Murdoch is a talented writer. I must read more of her work. 

  
I hope you have enjoyed these opening lines. For me, it’s been nice to refresh my memory and remind myself of the writers I need to read more of! I challenge all of you to pick your own favourite lines – I can’t wait to read them. 

Have a great weekend, big love x

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9 Comments

Filed under Literature, Quotes

9 responses to “My Top Ten Favourite Opening Lines In Literature

  1. Excellent! I really like Charles Dicken’s opening line, that’s great 🙂 I haven’t read A Tale of Two Cities either, but I liked David Copperfield and Oliver Twist 🙂

    Like

  2. This is great! I’ve always loved that opening line from A Tale of Two Cities. Talk about a hook! I also LOVE the one from Harry Potter. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely post…you have got a great blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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