“Leonard, I believe I may have a first sentence.”
The Hours is not one of my favorite movies, but it does have this gem of a line. Virginia Woolfe is speaking to her husband when she utters it, and in an otherwise dreary film, this is one of the few times where Woolfe has a sparkle in her eye. It was only when I heard it did I realize this basic truth: most great books really do start with a great first sentence.
“Marley was dead: to begin with” immediately sets a spooky tone.
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again” has the reader asking questions from the start: why can’t you go back? What’s Manderly?
How about “It was a dark and stormy night”? You may think that’s cliche, but it’s actually the first line of A Wrinkle in Time, and there’s nothing cliche about that book.
And lastly, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains”….ok, ok, unless you want to go with the Austen version: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife,” which is admittedly more well-known but less graphic.
My point is: books can take us to whole other worlds sometimes with just one sentence. They set the tone for the rest of the book, they spark our imaginations, or they take us away from our otherwise stressful or boring lives. I have read over 500 books (at least since I started keeping track on Goodreads) and I can’t wait for the next 500.
I started this blog because I’m an opinionated person when it comes to books and I love to discuss them. Whether you agree with me or not isn’t the point; the point is that we have fun chatting about a book that we have in common. So read away and let me know what you think. I’d love to talk books with you any day!