It has the power to decide if a book is read or not. By me anyway… You may have noticed that for each book I review, I record the opening sentence. When I read it back, months, even years later, sometimes the opening line is all it takes to evoke the whole feel of the story. The author’s signature style can come through in just those few words and immediately pitch me back into the world of the book. This is why I read it before committing to my next book, I like to see if that is enough to pull me in. 9/10 times it is – but if I need a little more, I will allow myself the first paragraph to plant the seed of the story. If I like what I read, the book is good to go.
3 Opening Lines I Love
For fear of tipping into hyperbolic territory, I will ALWAYS remember the moment I read one of my favourite opening sentences. I was in the library and recognised the title of the book as a friend had recommended it, so I opened it up, read the first sentence and felt the excitement rising. There is nothing like that feeling of anticipation when you are given the glimpse of a wonderful story and the only thing in the world you want to do is sit down, undisturbed for hours and devour the whole thing…
“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we understood the gravity of our situation.”
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Yep, with that one sentence, I was hooked and, thankfully, the rest of the book didn’t disappoint, more thoughts about that here.
I also had a particularly enjoyable moment when I opened The Wolf Wilder (read my review here) and found it began with perhaps the most famous starter in storytelling:
“Once upon a time, a hundred years ago, there lived a dark and stormy girl.”
The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
For the nostalgia, for the charm and for the overt reference to fairytales, I wanted to read this book based on that opening sentence alone.
Lastly, this will always stick in my mind:
“Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.”
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
Aside from the fact that Brighton is my home-town so any novel set there is going to have an appeal to me, how can you not be drawn in and want, no, have to know more about the story with an opener like that? If you – in fact – do, my review is right here.
I mean, there are so many brilliant options I could have used for this post, but those are three that I particularly remember. I found this feature from Stylist magazine that compiles (in their opinion) the 100 best opening lines from books and it’s well worth a look through if you – like me – a drawn to the power of the opening sentence.
What do you think? Do you put much weight on its importance?