All-Time Favourite Opening Sentences

1-100 101-200 201-300 301-400 401-500 501-600 601-700 701-800 801-900 901-999

These are the all-time favourite opening sentences as voted by viewers of To vote for your favourite or favourites, hit the "Vote" button on this page. If your favourite opening sentence is not already listed, please submit it here.

201 Two days after I turned fourteen the son of our neighbour set his stepmother alight.
The Boy Next Door
Irene Sabatini, 2009
202 "Where's Papa going with that axe?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
Charlotte's Web
E B White, 1952
203 The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.
The Secret History
Donna Tartt, 1992
204 Stunned by love and some would say stupid from too much sex, I decided I had to drive down South to kill a man.
Busy Monsters
William Giraldi, 2011
205 Apparently I am what is known as an Unreliable Narrator, though of course if you believe everything you’re told you deserve whatever you get.
Iain Banks, 2009
206 Money . . . in a voice that rustled.
William Gaddis, 1975
207 There was a heavenly time, a sliver-thin window of peace that Roger Drinkwater cherished every year on Meenigeesis-those early days when the water warmed just enough for him to bear but all others steered clear and he could swim in peace and hear nothing but the water and his breath and the birds and the distant road: the way it had once been on this lake.
The Lake, the River & the Other Lake
Steve Amick, 2005
208 It was just noon that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man.
Intruder in the Dust
William Faulkner, 1948
209 All of this happened while I was walking around starving in Christiania--that strange city no one escapes from until it has left its mark on him.
Knut Hamsun, 1890 (tr. Robert Bly, 1967)
210 Some stories are never meant to be told. Some can only be told as fairy tales.
Untold Story
Monica Ali, 2011
211 Jaffa is the darling of the waters: the waves of the Great Sea kiss her shores, a blue sky is her daily cover, she brims with every kind of people, Jews and Ishmaelites and Christians, busy at trade and labor, at shipping and forwarding. But there are others in Jaffa who take no part in any of these: teachers for instance - and such a one was Jacob Rechnitz, something of whose story we are about to tell.
S.Y. Agnon, 1943 (Tr. Walter Lever, 1966)
212 In retrospect, it would have been better if my wife had let me stay home to see Meet the Press instead if making me schlep across town to watch Jim Wallace die.
Don’t Ever Get Old
Daniel Friedman, 2012
213 On the cool October morning when Cayetana Chavez brought her baby to light, it was the start of that season in Sinaloa when the humid torments of summer finally gave way to breezes and falling leaves, and small red birds skittered through the corrals, and the dogs grew new coats.
The Hummingbird's Daughter
Luis Alberto Urrea, 2005
214 There is no way, unless you have unusual self-control, of disguising the expression on your face when you first meet a dwarf.
The Year of Living Dangerously
Christopher Koch, 1978
215 Imagine all the roads a woman and a man walk until they reach the road they’ll walk together.
Impatient with Desire
Gabrielle Burton, 2010
216 Only the steady creaking of a flight of swans disturbed the silence, labouring low overhead with outstretched necks towards the sea.
The Fox in the Attic
Richard Hughes, 1961
217 Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat, thinking that you’ve taken a wrong turn and are stuck in a life you don’t want.
Barbara Delinsky, 2011
218 Kate turned to check the darkening clouds and the white arc of her throat looked long like the neck of a preening swan.
Anthropology of an American Girl
Hilary Thayer Hamann, 2003
219 Espeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watching tea shoot into a small plastic cup.
Her Fearful Symmetry
Audrey Niffenegger, 2009
220 It was a dark and stormy night in Elizabethan England, a night of driving rain and howling wind, God save the mark! when even the stately oaks bowed their great heads and giant ash trees clawed with spidery fingers at the tempest, duck ponds and horse-troughs were lashed into foam, chimbley pots toppled on the heads of honest citizens, staring owls clung to their perches with difficulty, and broom-riding witches circled crazily over blasted heaths, stacked and waiting in vain for clearance to land, Steeple Bumpstead was whirled away leaving a gaping hole in the middle of Essex, cows and domestic animals were overturned, slates and washing flew every which way, and stout constables, their lanthorns awash, kept out of the way of sturdy beggars and thanked God they were rid of a knave, leaded casements rattled in stately Tudor homes, causing the noble inhabitants to give thanks for roaring fires and bumpers of mulled posset what time they brooded darkly about sunspots, global warming, and the false forecasts of Master Michael Fishe, he o' the isobars, who had predicted only light airs gentle as zephyrs blowing below the violets, would you believe it, while out yonder, in lonely hamlet and disintegrating hovel, the peasantry scratched their fleas and gnawed lumps of turnip and blamed it on the Almighty (poor churls, what did they know of warm fronts and depressions o'er Iceland?) or on the hag next door, her wi' the Evil Eye and black familiar Grimalkin and devilish spells, curse her, and wagged their unkempt heads as haystacks and livestock crashed through their thatches, and asked each other in fearful whispers whether such raging fury of the elements portended the end of the world, or the Second Coming, or another bloody wet week, and agreed that it was alle happenynge, gossip, and where would it end?
The Reavers
George MacDonald Fraser, 2008
221 Later I would think of America as one vast City of Night stretching gaudily from Times Square to Hollywood Boulevard-jukebox-winking, rock-n-roll-moaning: America at night fusing its darkcities into the unmistakable shape of loneliness.
City of Night
John Rechy, 1963
222 A hard fall had come upon Lucinda, throwing her to the floor of her bedroom, chafing an elbow and bruising the skin on one cheek.
The Outcasts
Kathleen Kent, 2013
223 She frightened me at every dawn the summer I stayed with her.
The Maid’s Version
Daniel Woodrell, 2013
224 "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
Little Women
Louisa May Alcott, 1867-8
225 There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte, 1847
226 The people who remained in this place have often asked themselves why it was that Ibrahim went mad.
Birds Without Wings
Louis de Bernieres, 2004
227 After eight months spent in the obscurity of our mother’s womb, my brother, Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of grace 1954.
Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese, 2009
228 Where shall I begin my unremarkable life?
Johnny One-Eye
Jerome Charyn, 2008
229 Where now? Who now? When now?
The Unnamable
Samuel Beckett, 1953 (tr. Patrick Bowles)
230 Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature.
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Garth Stein, 2008
231 Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash.
JG Ballard, 1973
232 She woke in the body of a dead friend.
Carolina Moon
Nora Roberts, 2000
233 You better not never tell nobody but God.
The Color Purple
Alice Walker, 1982
234 I could think of three good reasons for not going to Moscow, one of which was twenty-six, blond, and upstairs unpacking her suitcase.
Trial Run
Dick Francis, 1978
235 They shoot the white girl first.
Toni Morrison, 1997
236 It was not the dead that seemed to Quirke uncanny but the living.
Christine Falls
Benjamin Black, 2006
237 "When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets," Papa would say, "she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing."
Geek Love
Katherine Dunn, 1983
238 They ate Jorgensen first. He'd twisted his leg bad—his long white leg.
Plague Year
Jeff Carlson, 2007
239 They arrived in bulk, in Black Tie Preferred, in one large clump behind our wooden fence, peering over each other’s shoulders and into our backyard like people at the zoo who wanted a better view of the animals.
The Adults
Alison Espach, 2011
240 Those who saw him hushed. On Church Street. Liberty. Cortlandt. West Street. Fulton. Vesey. It was a silence that heard itself, awful and beautiful.
Let the Great World Spin
Colum McCann, 2009
241 A cool heavenly breeze took possession of him.
The Last Temptation
Nikos Kazantzakis, 1961
242 They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Diaz, 2007
243 Rumors chase the dead like flies, and we follow them with our prim noses.
New England White
Stephen L Carter, 2007
244 Spring in Minnesota is a bad blind date: Late in arriving. Disappointingly cold. Sloppy and frenetic and loud and foul-smelling. Beneath all of that, glimmers of something dangerous yet desirable.
Blind Spot
Terri Persons, 2007
245 With my hand on the doorjamb, some buried-alive instinct thumps within my chest: this is going to hurt.
Heroes Die
Matthew Woodring Stover, 1998
246 I write in the naked pages of this diary so that the truth will be known and my fate will not be left to the rumors and lies already whispering through the streets of Sevilla. Many, I am sure, will try to turn my life into a morality play after I am dead, but no man’s life is so easily understood or dismissed.
The Lost Diary of Don Juan
Douglas Carlton Abrams, 2007
247 Indian summer is like a woman. Ripe, hotly passionate, but fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases so that one is never sure whether she will come at all, nor for how long she will stay.
Peyton Place
Grace Metalious, 1956
248 Olga had never been one for numbers, rarely thought in pictures, and couldn’t carry a tune to save her soul – had in fact been asked many times to not sing.
The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight
Gina Ochsner, 2009
249 A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture.
Flight Behavior
Barbara Kingsolver, 2012
250 When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.
The Almost Moon
Alice Sebold, 2007
251 Most mornings, especially in spring and summer, when the liquid chorus of dawn bird song often roused him as early as four o’clock, Pop Larkin was awake some time before Ma, a circumstance that afforded him the silent pleasure of drinking in the sight of her warm dark head cradled in tranquillity on the pillow and even, sometimes, if the night had been exceptionally warm, of gazing on the olive amplitude of her expansive bust, its naked slumbering curves swelling and slipping from the lace fringe of her flowery chiffon nightgown.
A Little of What You Fancy
HE Bates, 1970
252 It’s a close June night in the Welsh hills, taut with the threat of thunder, and the radios of the village cough with static.
The Welsh Girl
Peter Ho Davies, 2007
253 I, Sam Pulsifer, am the man who accidentally burned down the Emily Dickinson house in Amherst, Massachusetts, and who in the process killed two people, for which I spent ten years in prison and, as letters from scholars of American literature tell me, for which I will continue to pay a high price into the not-so-sweet hereafter.
An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
Brock Clarke, 2007
254 In watermelon sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar.
In Watermelon Sugar
Richard Brautigan, 1968
255 My mother swore we’d never live in a boardinghouse again, but circumstances did not allow her to keep this promise.
Tobias Wolf, 1966 (from The Night in Question)
256 I am living at the Villa Borghese. There is not a crumb of dirt anywhere, not a chair misplaced. We are all alone here and we are dead.
Tropic of Cancer
Henry Miller, 1934
257 I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.
The Razor's Edge
W. Somerset Maugham, 1944
258 Come into my cell.
Walker Percy, 1977
259 I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me.
Tristram Shandy
Laurence Sterne, 1759–1767
260 This is what I write to her: The clouds tonight embossed the sky. A dipping sun gilded and brazed each raveling edge as if the firmament were threaded through with precious filaments.
Geraldine Brooks, 2005
261 Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block?
A Long Way Down
Nick Hornby, 2005
262 She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him.
The Wings of the Dove
Henry James, 1902
263 I had been mistaken for him so many times that when he died it was as if part of myself had died too.
Neil Jordan, 2011
264 Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes' chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression.
At Swim-Two-Birds
Flann O'Brien, 1939
265 The idea that love is not enough is a particularly painful one.
The Unknown Terrorist
Richard Flanagan, 2007
266 "The cow is there," said Ansell, lighting a match and holding it out over the carpet.
The Longest Journey
EM Forster, 1907
267 The high plains, the beginning of the desert West, often act as a crucible for those who inhabit them.
Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
Kathleen Norris, 1993
268 I warn you that what you're about to read is full of lose ends and unanswered questions.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Jack Finney, 1955
269 The Whistle Stop Cafe opened up last week, right next door to me at the post office, and owners Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison said business has been good ever since.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Fannie Flagg, 1987
270 Things could go wrong with one letter, he knew that now.
Spared (from Indelible Acts)
AL Kennedy, 2004
271 It was night, and dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling.
The Outlander
Gil Adamson, 2008
272 He drives alongside the small streambed, and the terrible shitscape looms up by increments-upturned buckets by the bend in the river, a broken baby carriage in the weeds, a petrol drum leaking out a dried tongue of rust, the carcass of a fridge in the brambles.
Colum McCann, 2007
273 Hiram Clegg, together with his wife Emma and four friends of the faith from Randolph Junction, were summoned by the Spirit and Mrs. Clara Collins, widow of the beloved Nazarene preacher Ely Collins, to West Condon on the weekend of the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, there to await the End of the World.
The Origin of the Brunists
Robert Coover, 1966
274 Had I not been there, no account, no print, no evidence of witnesses could have made me believe what I saw that day.
The Mathematics of Love
Emma Darwin, 2007
275 Shadow had done three years in prison.
American Gods
Neil Gaiman, 2001
276 Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl.
Little Bee (UK title The Other Hand)
Chris Cleave, 2008
277 The air still smelled of charcoal when I arrived in Venice three days after the fire.
The City of Falling Angels
John Berendt, 2005
278 Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.
A Start in Life
Anita Brookner, 1981
279 They say it is rare to have a good reason to leave Berlin.
Shadow and Light
Jonathan Rabb, 2009
280 We are on our way to the hospital, Ryan’s father says.
Listen to me, Son:
You are not going to bleed to death
Ryan is still aware enough that his father’s words come in through the edges, like sunlight on the borders of a window shade.
Await Your Reply
Dan Chaon, 2009
281 Carl Dévúsh, spindle-shanked, bleach-blond, lampburnt, twelve years old, kicked up buff puffs of sand with his bare feet as he scampered along the path from the manor.
The Book of Dave
Will Self, 2007
282 In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game.
Nineteen Minutes
Jodi Picoult, 2007
283 People like to warn you that by the time you reach the middle of your life, passion will begin to feel like a meal eaten long ago, which you remember with great tenderness.
The Uncoupling
Meg Wolitzer, 2011
284 It was not a street anymore but a world, a time and space of falling ash and near night.
Falling Man
Don DeLillo, 2007
285 The hair is unmistakable: old-fashioned Russian hair, swept back from the forehead, thickly and unusually abundant.
All That Follows
Jim Grace, 2010
286 On the morning I turned eighteen, instead of a birthday present, my father tossed me the keys to his car and informed me I was finally man enough to captain his Cadillac.
The Starboard Sea
Amber Dermont, 2012
287 So this, said Kay to herself, is the sort of person you've become: a person whose clocks and wrist-watches have stopped, and who tells the time, instead, by the particular kind of cripple arriving at her landlord's door.
The Night Watch
Sarah Waters, 2006
288 I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I'm old, and you said, I don't think you're old.
Marilynne Robinson, 2004
289 The silence of snow, thought the man sitting just behind the bus driver.
Orhan Pamuk, 2004 (tr.Maureen Freely)
290 It was a cold May in all of Idaho, and as the month began there were only a few short stacks of lumber and construction gear on the plateau above the remote river gorge, along with all the game trails and the manifold signs of rabbits who were native to the place and who now moved cautiously around the three men sleeping on the ground.
Five Skies
Ron Carlson, 2007
291 One afternoon in September 1959 a young woman factory worker was walking home on the towpath of the Erie Barge Canal, east of the small city of Chautauqua Falls, when she began to notice that she was being followed, at a distance of about thirty feet, by a man in a panama hat.
The Gravedigger's Daughter
Joyce Carol Oates, 2007
292 Cities at night, I feel, contain men who cry in their sleep and then say Nothing. Its nothing. Just sad dreams. Or something like that…
The Information
Martin Amis, 1995
293 Sometimes in the night he dreamed about the dead—familiar faces and the others, half-forgotten ones, fleetingly summoned up.
The Master
Colm Toibin, 2004
294 They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.
Wide Sargasso Sea
Jean Rhys, 1966
295 This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
The Good Soldier
Ford Madox Ford, 1915
296 We entered my childhood world not with the blasts of rockets and bombs but with my father’s footsteps as he walked through the hallway, passing my bedroom toward his.
In the Shadow of the Banyan
Vaddey Ratner, 2012
297 At first light a carriage stopped on the towpath above the Erie Canal.
The Anarchist
John Smolens, 2009
298 Cassandra Devine was not yet thirty, but she was already tired.
Christopher Buckley, 2007
299 Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway.
White Teeth
Zadie Smith, 2000
300 My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.
Because of Winn-Dixie
Kate DiCamillo, 2000

© Copyright 2006-2015