54 great opening lines: 18

Define the colour red without using the words ‘colour’ or ‘red’ in your answer, and without making reference to any other colours. The Life of Brian (Or Lack Thereof), Maree Spratt ***** The first line stopped me momentarily from reading the second line.  My mind filled with words in easy obedience to the command;  red… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 17

There was once an art critic, I have been told, who had a sure way of identifying ancient Maltese art objects:  he found himself crying before them. Lest Innocent Blood be Shed, Philip Hallie ***** The story of a village in the south of France, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, where every household and farm sheltered or hid… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 16

The woman carried the bag with the axe and maul and wedges;  the man had the billy and clean tucker-bags;  the cross-cut saw linked them. Squeaker’s Mate, Barbara Baynton ***** A late 19th-century Australian story about a tough pipe-smoking timber-getting woman whose back is broken when she is cutting down a tree.  The man in… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 15

Mother died today. The Outsider, Albert Camus (trans. by Stuart Gilbert.  Originally L’étranger) ***** Yesterday (no. 14) I posted the first line from The Outsiders.  With a final s.  Different book, different author, but the same theme of a protagonist who feels like he’s outside of society.  Like a misfit. Today’s post is about The… Continue reading


54 great opening lines: 14

When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton ***** Yesterday’s great opening line (no. 13) was the same as the book’s title.  Today’s opening line of The Outsiders is the… Continue reading



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