54 great opening lines: 12

Of late years, an abundant shower of curates has fallen upon the north of England:  they lie very thick on the hills;  every parish has one or more of them;  they are young enough to be very active, and ought to be doing a great deal of good. Shirley, Charlotte Brontë ***** Are you imagining… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 11

There is a French saying which runs:  ‘A dry fisherman and a wet hunter have the same sad look.’ Living Relic, Ivan Turgenev ***** One of Turgenev’s ‘Sketches from a Hunter’s Album’:  a short story that could be told on canvas, so intimate are the descriptions, so charged the emotions.  The reader is pulled into… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 10

My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens ***** I had to read it at school and liked it then; I still like it now.  There’s enough Gothic darkness and joyful resolution to… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 9

All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut. Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë ***** Agnes Grey is trying to be independent and earn an income, albeit to help… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 8

My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married and where I was born. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt ***** I was surprised to find my own family in this book. This afternoon I was about to list the similarities, but was silently checked by this commandment:  ‘Honour your father… Continue reading


A Short Story from New Caledonia about Japan. Translated from French

Origami by Anne Bihan (© Translation by Patricia J.F. Worth) Trembling.  It’s what I do best. I’m an expert at trembling. I have an incredible mastery of trembling. Had it since I was very small. Since the day I started kindergarten, the teacher has been telling my mother who comes to pick me up every… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 7

Trembling.  It’s what I do best. Origami, Anne Bihan (Translated by me) ***** You may have read this short story in French.  🙂  But if you didn’t, then let me show you what it looks like in English.  The author, Anne Bihan, has given me permission to blog my translation of it, so, after dinner,… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 6

The day broke grey and dull. Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham ***** It’s a great opening line, and it sets the mood for the book, even to the contrasting last line: ‘Cabs and omnibuses hurried to and fro, and crowds passed, hastening in every direction, and the sun was shining.’, a line which I… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 5

I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton ***** This week’s WP Photo Challenge, Kiss, prompted one blogger to tell us that his hometown isn’t a place where public kissing is encouraged.  He compared it… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 4

I was brought here from Senegal when I was two years old by the chevalier de B., who was then governor there. Ourika, Claire de Duras, translated by John Fowles ***** John Fowles was the author of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, whose opening line I posted yesterday, as no. 3.