Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 7

Sometimes at the centre of a novel a new character is introduced who changes everything.  In John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, it’s not until the middle that we meet the title character.  And it’s then that everything changes for the German boy, Bruno: “The boy was smaller than Bruno and was sitting… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 6

Half-way through Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, the patient arrives at the point in his tale where his tough personal barrier was penetrated.  ‘I am a man who kept the codes of my behaviour separate,’ he says on p. 144.  Then the turning point:  we learn why and how he ended up in hospital (well,… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 5

The War of the Worlds. Read the blurb on the front cover of this 1910 edition: ‘It is a story which no ordinary reader can possibly put down half finished.’ And that’s because when you’ve half-finished reading it, you’re at a point of suspense that drives you onwards through the chapters.  I’ve been reading this… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 4

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (translated by Carol Brown Janeway) is 216 pages long and the middle page (of my edition) is p. 108, where Hanna, a former guard in a Nazi concentration camp, is on trial for her part in locking women prisoners in a church which was then bombed and burnt down.  Two… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 3

Today, telling my daughter-in-law about the turning point at a novel’s centre, I picked up a book lying on her table, Wuthering Heights, to demonstrate.  I calculated the number of pages in the story, then halved it and turned to that page, ending up at p. 166, the early part of Volume Two where Heathcliff… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 2

To find the centre of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (translated by William Weaver), I have to begin by counting the pages of the first prologue which precedes the second prologue. The first one appears to be a kind of introduction by the author, an account of how Eco came to write… Continue reading


Journey to the centre of a novel: Great middle lines – 1

In the middle of a novel, a few lines often show the reader that a character’s world is about to become unfamiliar and unsafe.  It can be a turning point, a point where a journey begins and when the action starts. I’d like to share some of these lines with you.  I’ll go to the… Continue reading