46 Great Opening Lines: 31

It was late, and Holofernes’ guests quickly withdrew. Bagoas closed the tent from the outside, dismissed the attendants, and everyone went to their lodgings to sleep, tired from too much drinking. Holofernes had collapsed onto his bed, completely drunk. Judith was left alone with him in the tent. Opening of Chapter 13 of the Book… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 23

Two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. First line of the story ‘Solomon’s Wise Judgement’, 1 Kings 3:16 The lowest of the low approach the highest of the high. It’s an extraordinary situation evoked by concise, simple language. I try to imagine two prostitutes approaching Queen Elizabeth and demanding a hearing, but… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 19

In his thirty-fifth year, the dwarf of the Barnaboum Circus started to grow. Opening line, ‘The Dwarf’, Marcel Aymé 1934 (my translation) Sometimes an opening line of a story or book can distract a reader from everything else in that moment. He reads on, regardless of the noisy world around him. Nothing matters but the… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 17

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. Luke 2:1, King James Version While ‘all the world’ that Caesar Augustus had in mind was all the Roman world, this story is about the birth of a child, Jesus, who… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 14

Swish! It is the wind, let loose. Swash! It is the rain, falling in torrents. Opening lines, ‘Dr Trifulgas’, Jules Verne (1884), translator unknown This story in French is called ‘Frritt-Flacc’, the sound of the hurricane and the torrential rain it brings. Dr Trifulgas is a rich old doctor who demands exorbitant fees from his… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 11

1918. 8 March. There is so much influenza about that they’ve had to shut the university. Opening line, The Gray Notebook, Josep Pla, 1966, translated by Peter Bush   Catalonia is in the news and on my mind. I’m reading Josep Pla’s The Gray Notebook. And it’s in my face, for my desktop picture is… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 10

Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wood, where the right way was lost. Opening line of Canto 1, “Hell”, The Divine Comedy, Dante, completed 1320, translated by Charles Eliot Norton.   Dante has lost the “right way” and hopes to find it before he grows old. But he… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 4

At least two hundred poor beggars were counted sleeping out on the pavements of the main streets of Sydney the other night – grotesque bundles of rags lying under the verandahs of the old Fruit Markets and York-street shops, with their heads to the wall and their feet to the gutter. ‘Dossing Out’ and ‘Camping’,… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 3

When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. 1 Kings 10:1 I have this painting on my living room wall. When I first saw it in the Art Gallery of NSW I fell in love… Continue reading


The Travelling Sketchbook

Many months ago I joined a group of women bloggers who wanted to contribute to a travelling sketchbook, the brilliant idea of Anne Lawson. The blank sketchbook was made by Anne in Melbourne and posted off to the first person on the list who posted it to the next one and so on and so… Continue reading