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.

701 It wasn’t every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road, not even in Dean Robillard’s larger-than-life world.
Natural Born Charmer
Susan Phillips, 2007
702 A trio of bulbous black SUVs passes sleekly by, gliding through their world like seals.
The Revisionists
Thomas Mullen, 2011
703 Detective Saunderson walked backward on the beach, glancing around now and then to make sure he wasn’t going to trip over piece of driftwood.
The Great Leader
Jim Harrison, 2011
704 So Carmen was married, just. She sat under a huge butter moon, on a windless night in the summer of 1983, at a table, in front of the remains of some chicken cordon bleu.
Carry the One
Carol Anshaw, 2012
705 A cruelly cold but bright sunshiny New Year's Day was when her mam was sold south to satisfy a debt incurred by the master.
Stand the Storm
Breena Clarke, 2008
706 The modern marriage has two states, plateau and precipice, and in the winter of our recent crisis—with markets plummeting and even rich folks crying poor; with the dark reign of one tinsel president finally ending, and the promised hope of a new man about to start; yes, with hope rising like a cockamamie kite and fear more common than love—Charlie Pepper forgot his wife.
Three Stages of Amazement
Carol Edgarian, 2011
707 The place generally referred to as Hell but also known variously as Hades, the Kingdom of Fire, Old Nick’s Place, and assorted other names designed to indicate that this is not somewhere in which you might want to spend eternity, let alone a short vacation, was in a state of turmoil.
The Infernals
John Connolly, 2011
708 Russian midgets are the tallest and Russian watches are the fastest, went the joke, and my watch—a Sputnik, which I had bought in Moscow after my recital at the National Conservatory—lived up to its reputation.
Nikolai Grozni, 2011
709 My mother was the masked vigilante known as the Black Stiletto.
The Black Stiletto
Raymond Benson, 2011
710 Spooner was born a few minutes previous to daybreak in the historic, honeysuckled little town of Milledgeville Georgia, in a makeshift delivery room put together in the waiting area of the medical offices of Dr. Emil Woods, across the street from and approximately in the crosshairs of a cluster of Confederate artillery pieces guarding the dog-spotted front lawn of the Greene Street Sons of the Confederacy Retirement Home.
Pete Dexter, 2009
711 The taxi's radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janaìcek's Sinfonietta—probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic.
Haruki Murakami, 2011 (Tr. Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel, 2011)
712 It isn’t like the Kid is locally famous for doing a good or a bad thing and even if people knew his real name it wouldn’t change how they treat him unless they looked it up online which is not something he wants to encourage.
Lost Memory of Skin
Russell Banks, 2011
713 There are both wonderful and awful moments in a woman’s life.
Coming Up for Air
Patti Callahan Henry, 2011
714 What did I know about murder cases that a man’s life should lie in my hands?
The Ballad of Tom Dooley
Sharyn McCrumb, 2011
715 On Thanksgiving Day in 1962 I was seated at the dining room table with the Dunbar family, father and mother, eight-year-old twins Janet and Julia, and Johnny, who was my age.
American Boy
Larry Watson, 2011
716 The baby boy wriggled in his arms, a warm, wet mass, softer than a goat, and hairier than a rabbit kit.
Bright’s Passage
Josh Ritter, 2011
717 The peacocks tilted their heads back and bellowed and hollered their desires into the night.
A Good Hard Look
Ann Napolitano, 2011
718 Adam Newman and Evelyn Winston fell in love over a plate of cold chili dogs and limp onion rings.
Paradise Dogs
Man Martin, 2011
719 Luce’s new stranger children were small and beautiful and violent.
Charles Frazier, 2011
720 When I was eleven I was too old to cry in front of my friends, but not too old to fake a stomachache at a sleepover if I was suddenly overcome with homesickness because my friend’s mother had made mutton stew and prayed before the meal and bought no-name-brand toothpaste that tasted funny.
The Dubious Salvation of Jack V.
Jacques Strauss, 2011
721 They are playing a game called Firsts that Tucker had made up to pass the time in the car that first week when he and Sonia barely knew each other, in the days before their first time, which should have imparted intimate knowledge, but had, in some indefinable way, made them feel even more like strangers than they were before.
Witches on the Road Tonight
Sheri Holman, 2011
722 I’d been staying at the Holiday Inn with my girlfriend, honestly the most beautiful woman I’d ever known, for three days under a phony name, shooting heroin.
Dennis Johnson, 1992 (from Jesus’ Son)
723 She had two hours to conceal the secrets of her life.
The Spoiler
Annalena McAfee, 2011
724 Let us begin with two girls at a dance.
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lenox
Maggie O'Farrell, 2006
725 The house my father left behind in Fargo, North Dakota, was never really a house at all. Always, instead, it was an idea of itself.
The Sentimentalists
Johanna Skibsrud, 2011
726 The police came for me in the middle of the night.
Break the Skin
Lee Martin, 2011
727 I couldn’t tell you the first time I saw Jack Ellery, but it would have been during the couple of years I spent in the Bronx.
A Drop of the Hard Stuff
Lawrence Block, 2011
728 Strike spotted her: baby fat, baby face, Shanelle or Shanette, fourteen years old maybe, standing there with that queasy smile, trying to work up the nerve.
Richard Price, 1992
729 Titus Jones stood in the middle of his tobacco patch, lifted his hoe from the hardscrabble earth and listened.
The Tender Mercy of Roses
Anna Michaels, 2011
730 The sound was the loudest Clayton Poole had ever heard, the noise he imagined a bomb would make if the Huns attacked Long Island.
The House on Salt Hay Road
Carin Clevidence, 2010
731 “Surprised to see me?” said Nicolas Pratt, planting his walking stick on the crematorium carpet and fixing Patrick with a look of slightly aimless defiance, a habit no longer useful but too late to change.
At Last
Edward St Aubyn, 2011
732 Against all odds, against my own wishes, this is a love story. And it all began, of all places, at Alonzo Wax’s funeral.
The School of Night
Louis Bayard, 2011
733 All I ever wanted in life was true love, a set of copper cookware, and the perfect recipe for red velvet cake.
Gone With a Handsomer Man
Michael Lee West, 2011
734 From: Jennifer Scribner-Snyder
To: Beth Freemont
Sent: Wed. 08/18/1999 9:06 AM
Subject: Where are you?
Would it kill you to get here before noon? I’m sitting here among the shards of my life as I know it, and you…if I know you, you just woke up.
Rainbow Rowell, 2011
735 Father was a loud man. His voice entered a room before he did.
Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away
Christie Watson, 2011
736 The day Whaley came for her she had spent among the live oaks, huddling and shivering in the squalls of frigid rain.
The Watery Part of the World
Michael Parker, 2011
737 Picture her there in the pinched little galley where you could barely stand up without cracking your head, her right hand raw and stinging still from the scald of the coffee she’d dutifully—and foolishly—tried to make so they could have something to keep them going, a good sport, always a good sport though she’d woken up vomiting in her berth not half an hour ago.
When the Killing’s Done
TC Boyle, 2011
738 Whenever Maize snuck away to see Hal Jamesley, there was a blissful moment when she hardly recognized herself.
The Intimates
Ralph Sassone, 2011
739 Someone has come for her – someone is here! – and gossip speeds so readily through Ladies Undergarments that Frieda, in a twinkling, is forewarned.
Charity Girl
Michael Lowenthal, 2007
740 Chloe Pinter is trying to develop a taste for coffee.
Chandra Hoffman, 2010
741 Momma left her red satin shoes in the middle of the road.
Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt
Beth Hoffman, 2010
742 A wedding! The first of a generation; the bride and groom are just twenty-two, young to be married these days.
The Privileges
Jonathan Dee, 2010
743 “Darlings! Welcome! And you must be Danielle?” Sleek and small, her wide eyes rendered enormous by kohl, Lucy Leverett, in spite of her resemblance to a baby seal, rasped impressively.
The Emperor’s Children
Claire Messud, 2006
744 Under the circumstances, he told himself, speeding made sense.
The End of California
Steve Yarbrough, 2006
745 Alfred was growing a moustache.
An untrained observer might think he was idling, at a loose end in the countryside, but this wasn't the case. In fact, he was concentrating, thinking his way through every bristle, making sure they would align and be all right.
AL Kennedy, 2007
746 He is coming on the Lord’s Day.
Caleb’s Crossing
Geraldine Brooks, 2011
747 I was almost born Happy.
The Spanish Bow
Andromeda Romano-Lax, 2007
748 When all was said and done, Jo supposed, she would simply call hers a story of salt.
The Gilly Salt Sisters
Tiffany Baker, 2012
749 For reasons that will forever remain a mystery, my sister scheduled the client meeting at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library—specifically, the government section, which is low traffic, offering privacy for a new client intake.
Trail of the Spellmans
Lisa Lutz, 2012
750 What could be bothering the partners of Almagro, Ruggiero & Associates, who asked him to appear at their headquarters in such a hurry?
The Neruda Case
Roberto Ampuero, 2012 (tr. Carolina De Robertis, 2012)
751 Riding through the tall-grass sweetness of the Colorado prairie, wheat stalks whipping my legs and the whir of insects—a high-pitched buzz buzz buzz—turning me dizzy under that white-yellow heat pouring through the blue sky.
BK Loren, 2012
752 Jobe died on a cool April morning that smelled of wet earth and cherry blossoms.
The Forever Marriage
Ann Bauer, 2012
753 At first Laurel thought it was a warbler or a thrush, though unlike any she’d heard before –its song more sustained, as if so pure no breath need carry it into the world.
The Cove
Ron Rash, 2012
754 His children are falling from the sky.
Bringing Up the Bodies
Hilary Mantel, 2012
755 It’s funny; it isn’t the fire that kills you, it’s the smoke.
Hope: A Tragedy
Shalom Auslander, 2012
756 I am the recording angel, doomed to watch.
The Children's Hospital
Chris Adrian, 2007
757 Every morning Ellie West listened to her son get out of bed.
The Train of Small Mercies
David Rowell, 2011
758 Human memory is a marvelous but fallacious instrument.
The Drowned and the Saved
Primo Levi, 1986 (tr. Raymond Rosenthal, 1988)
759 The first beast I laid eyes on was my father.
The Bestiary
Nicholas Christopher, 2007
760 Schwartz didn’t notice the kid during the game.
The Art of Fielding
Chad Harbach, 2011
761 My daughter, Liza, put her heart in a silver box and buried it under the willow tree in our backyard.
A Grown-up Kind of Pretty
Joshilyn Jackson, 2012
762 Three keys: one for the main entrance; one for the letter box on the wall outside and one for my brown door, which comes complete with fist holes and crowbar dents around the lock.
Mountains of the Moon
I. J. Kay, 2012
763 Everyone knew that if you wanted to reserve a first-class compartment to yourself, you had to buy four tickets in advance.
The Little Russian
Susan Sherman, 2012
764 It was a Friday when the girl came into the Archives for the first time, the first Friday after they’d changed the clocks.
So Far Away
Meg Mitchell Moore, 2012
765 They rose up like men. We saw them. Like men they stood.
Toni Morrison, 2012
766 I’m going to begin by telling you about Mrs. Frost
In One Person
John Irving, 2012
767 The women in the river, singing.
Lauren Groff, 2012
768 A long while later-after the accident that would shape his life in ways he wouldn't understand for decades-Edward Everett Yates would feel sorry for the naïve young man he was then, the one who mistook that summer as the reward for so many years of faith and perseverance.
The Might Have Been
Joseph M Schuster, 2012
769 Rick, as it turned out, wore jumbo wristbands with shiny metal studs, Teutonic black boots, and a watch chain that could double as a ship’s anchor.
Isaac: A Modern Fable
Ivan G Goldman, 2012
770 The first thing you must know about me is that I am colossally fat.
Liz Moore, 2012
771 Its not every day that I bake a dozen red velvet cakes, learn that my boyfriend has a love child, and I witness a murder.
A Teenie Bit of Trouble
Michael Lee West, 2012
772 We left on a school day, so Esther wouldn’t see us.
The Flame Alphabet
Ben Marcus, 2012
773 Mario Vesques was sure he was going to make it, right up until he saw the knife in the dog’s hand.
Greg Rucka, 2012
774 We see Miss Mary Bayly and her distant and much younger cousin Mr. Edward Mason sitting on the porch of the Mansion House on her ancestral farm, Mason’s Retreat. Edward Mason has crossed his legs; one foot, Mary feels, is poised in order for her to admire his English shoes.
The Right Hand Shore
Christopher Tilghman, 2012
775 In the beginning were the howlers.
The Lacuna
Barbara Kingsolver, 2009
776 "What is it you find so amusing, dear?"
The Falcon at the Portal
Elizabeth Peters, 1999
777 After the accident, I became less visible.
Look at Me
Jennifer Egan, 2001
778 To start with, look at all her books.
The Marriage Plot
Jeffrey Eugenides, 2011
779 The young woman, twenty-one, walks gingerly down the dusty street between her father and the American consul here in Aleppo, an energetic fellow almost her father’s age named Ryan Donald Martin, and draws the scarf over her hair and her cheeks.
The Sandcastle Girls
Chris Bohjalian, 2012
780 The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted.
The Beginner’s Goodbye
Anne Tyler, 2012
781 It's about time someone talked about what it’s like to be a man now, and how even the term “man” has become a dirty word.
The Constant Heart
Craig Nova, 2012
782 On the day his destiny returned to claim him, Ted Mundy was sporting a bowler hat and balancing on a soapbox in one of Mad King Ludwig's castles in Bavaria.
Absolute Friends
John le Carre, 2004
783 My publishers signed me up a year ago to write a book, but not this book.
True Believers
Kurt Andersen, 2012
784 My life-my real life-started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and, yes, I know how that sounds.
Love Walked In
Marisa de los Santos, 2005
785 That’s me, lurking by the elementary school wrought-iron fence, standing with my hands in the pockets of my peacoat.
Karl Taro Greenfeld, 2012
786 It was a stricken love, but still love.
Lydia Millet, 2012
789 In the locker room after practice one of the quarterbacks had coined a new song and was performing it to the clapping delight of the others.
Love’s Winning Plays
Inman Majors, 2012
790 The lights go out. The cheap seats erupt in shrieks and roars, as though the dark has changed everyone into wild animals and birds. It’s hot. The stench is terrible. Amelia fumbles for William’s hand.
The Picture Book
Jo Baker, 2011
791 A few days ago a fire truck and an ambulance pulled up to my apartment building on the south hill overlooking Dolores Park.
A Working Theory of Love
Scott Hutchins, 2012
792 Egyptian cooking is folk magic.
Evel Knievel Days
Pauls Toutonghi, 2012
793 I was broke when duty called me to minister to those less fortunate than myself, so maybe I’m no Florence Nightingale.
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
Jonathan Evison, 2012
794 Loyalty Island was the stink of herring, nickel paint, and kelp rotting on moorings and beaches.
When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man
Nick Dybeck, 2012
795 She was coughing, always coughing, and sometimes she coughed up blood.
San Miguel
TC Boyle, 2012
796 Adam had his shirt lifted, studying the lead-colored bruise along his ribcage, when the girl opened the door.
The Prophet
Michael Koryta, 2012
797 I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart.
The Virgin Cure
Ami McKay, 2012
798 There’s a road in Sudbury, on the outskirts of Boston, called Waterbourne.
The Collective
Don Lee, 2012
799 Call me a Believer with a Blackberry, the Mohammedan with the Mac.
Timothy Mo, 2012
800 The days were already growing shorter, prodding us towards summer’s end, when my mother and I left Boston for the sequestered town of Nye.
The Year of the Gadfly
Jennifer Miller, 2012

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