top lists

Our Top 10 Opening Lines in novels …


An opening line can be a thing of beauty, drawing us into a novel. There are many great lines but here are our Top 10 favourites.



1. ‘He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.’ — Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche (1921)




2. ‘It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.’- Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)






3. ‘Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.’ – George Eliot, Middlemarch (1871)






4. ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’ – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813) – of course!






5. ‘The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of the Dancers.’ – Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye (1953)






6. ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’ – Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca (1938)






7. ‘There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.’ – C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)





8. ‘Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.’ — Gabriel Garcia Marques, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)






9. ‘I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.’ – Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind (2001)





10. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’ – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)


Also of interest: Letters from the heart – our Top 20 love letters; I am half agony … The best love letter in literature