Dickens, Orwell, Tolkien, Barrie, and Rowling Take the Top 5 Spots. Who Else Deserves a Nod?
"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. " - C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. A perfect introduction to the character.
As we’re heading into that time of year then probably :-
“Marley was dead, to begin with”
There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there.
Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
I love this, from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: "Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic."
It sets the tone perfectly! But there is nothing like the opening of 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."
Thinking of more contemporary titles, I love this one:
"History has failed us, but no matter."
From Min Jin Lee's Pachinko.
“Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.“
"It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the expression 'As pretty as an airport" Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea Time of the soul
"WHEN Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant--a combined gardener and cook--had seen in at least ten years." From "A Rose for Emily", by William Faulkner. This is a fun thread - I was going to pick the Eustace Scrubb line, but someone beat me to it!
Has no one mentioned Pride and Prejudice? I also put in a vote for Anna Karenina
"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." Stephen King - The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
I have my favorites. :)
My all-time favorite is Lewis’ “Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” but since it has already been mentioned, here is my number 2: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” William Gibson’s “Neuromancer”
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
~ One Hundred Years of Solitude
"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta"
Immediately, we know we're in the hands of a master stylist.
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Anna Karenina
It's has so much depth in just one sentence.
"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink'. Who could resist this opener from Dodie Smith in I Capture the Castle? Apart from which, when I was a very little girl, I remember being bathed in the kitchen sink, so this caught me straight away.
"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there." So romantic from LP Hartley's The Go-Between. Thoughtful, almost rueful. To be honest, I think it presages a much better book than the one it's in.
My favorite opening lines were all already mentioned, but as a Dickens fan I have to add this lesser known one from Dombey and Son:
"Dombey sat in the corner of the darkened room in the great armchair by the bedside, and Son lay tucked up warm in a little basket bedstead, carefully disposed on a low settee immediately in front of the fire and close to it, as if his constitution were analogous to that of a muffin, and it was essential to toast him brown while he was very new".