The best 100 opening lines in books


I found this very nice gallery online and not only does it do the best 100 opening lines but also the best closing lines.  Here are some of my favourite from their list of opening lines;

“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”

Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis.

“It was the day my grandmother exploded.”

The Crow Road, Iain Banks

“Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.”

Middlemarch, George Elliot

“Dr Iannis had enjoyed a satisfactory day in which none of his patients had died or got any worse.”

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

and of course for me the best,

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

NB since writing this post I have had it pointed out that the best one of all was not on there, in my defence I can only say that it wasn’t on the website’s list so I forgot it, but here it is and I think actually it is my favourite

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

The Go-Between,  L P Hartley

They also have some that I really don’t think are very good and I am sure they just chose them because the books have been very popular recently like;

“Today I’m five.”

Room, Emma Donoghue

“Clare: It’s hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays.”

The Time Travellers Wife , Audrey Niffenegger

The website also has other lists like the 20 best books and the best films based on books, both of which I don’t really agree with but it is a very lovely looking website and worth checking out.  It would be good to see if other people agree on some of these choices.




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5 responses to “The best 100 opening lines in books

  1. Oh dear, how could you miss – The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

    • Oh no, you are completely right, my only defence is that it is not on this particular list. I even have this one on my classroom wall, I am so upset that I am going to add it into my post now.

  2. What’s great about this site (and indeed your comments here) is that one brief sentence is all you need to want to read a whole book. I love that. My all time favourite novel, probably, is the Garcia Marquez one you listed above, and I’d completely forgotten that’s how it started.
    But yes Mark, the best ever opening line is surely form L.P Hartley’s “go between”. Loved reading that at school (ta Ms Brougham) and loved it just as much when i re-read it after several decades. Disappointing film though…

  3. Yes, you can definitely weed out most of the rubbish books from this list on the website easily. Agree about the film, if I hadn’t read the book I wouldn’t have even reaised that Alan Bates had killed himself as he just looks like he is lying on the table.

  4. Pingback: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis « She Reviews Everything

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