All-Time Favourite Opening Sentences

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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.

801 First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.
Richard Ford, 2012
802 Floating upward through a confusion of dreams and memory, curving like a trout through the rings of precious risings, I surface.
Crossing to Safety
Wallace Stegner, 1987
803 Billy Gray was my best friend and I fell in love with his mother.
Ancient Light
John Banville 2012
804 If you set aside love and friendship and the bonds of family, luck, religion, and spirituality, the desire to better mankind, and music and art, and hunting and fishing and farming, self-importance, and public and private transportation from buses to bicycles, if you set all that aside money is what makes the world go around.
Panorama City
Antoine Wilson, 2012
805 Claire did not believe in the evil of the world, and so when it touched her, at first she did not recognize it for what it was.
The Forgetting Tree
Tatjana Soli, 2012
806 The same week our fowls were stolen, Daphne Moran had her throat cut.
The Scarecrow
Ronald Hugh Morrison, 1963
807 In the end Jack Burdette came back to Holt after all.
Where You Once Belonged
Kent Haruf, 1990
808 Itís funny; it isnít the fire that kills you, itís the smoke.
Hope: A Tragedy
Shalom Auslander, 2012
809 Four-fifteen in the morning is the perfect time to catalog the one commodity I am still rich in: regrets.
How Perfect is That
Sarah Bird, 2008
810 Every house has a story to tell and, over time, will make whoever lives there a character.
Finding Casey
Jo-Ann Mapson, 2012
811 Begin with a question. An obvious one. So obvious it has already crossed your mind. Why have I not heard of this so-called Pradeep Mathew?
Chinaman (The Legend of Pradeep Mathew)
Shehan Karunatilaka, 2011
812 Though rumors of Jolie Hoytís star-crossed romance with Sam Lense would dog her reputation for many years to come, in truth their grand affaire was a little short of grand: barely three months long, and as quickly ended as it had begun.
American Ghost
Janis Owens, 2012
813 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
814 There are places Iíll remember all my lifeóRed Square with a hot wind howling across it, my motherís bedroom on the wrong side of 8-Mile, the endless gardens of a fancy foster home, a man waiting to kill me in a group of ruins known as the Theatre of Death.
I Am Pilgrim
Terry Hayes, 2012
815 I sat there in the car with the gravel dust blowing across the parking lot and saw the place for what it was, not what it was right at that moment in the hot sunlight, but for what it had been maybe twelve or fifteen years before: a real general store with folks gathered around the lunch counter, a line of people at the soda fountain, little children ordering ice cream of just about every flavour you could think of, hard candy by the quarter pound, moon pies and crackerjack and other things I hadnít thought about tasting in years.
A Land More Kind Than Home
Wiley Cash, 2012
816 Bernadette had been dead two weeks when her sisters showed up in Doyle's living room asking for the statue back.
Ann Patchett, 2007
817 In the jungle, during one night each month, the moths did not come to lanterns; through the black reaches of the outer night, so it was said, they flew toward the full moon.
At Play in the Fields of the Lord
Peter Matthiessen, 1965
818 There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbandsí necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.
Red Wind (from Red Wind: A Collection of Short Stories)
Raymond Chandler, 1938
819 The brindled sow stood in the corner, glowering at the boy.
The Wettest County in the World
Matt Bondurant, 2008
820 The way Craig Ralston found out that his old his old high school buddy Jimmy Brand was coming back to town was that Jimmyís mother had called him for help.
Return to Oakpine
Ron Carlson, 2013
821 I am old, decayed, and fermented. I am a dead tree with a rotten cavity within which grows a stem of floweró my last empress.
My Last Empress
Da Chen, 2012
822 My family might have had a more peaceful life if we had stayed in the Shenandoah Valley, but staying put was not in the blood of the Seviers.
Kingís Mountain
Sharyn McCrumb, 2013
823 The planes flew in great flocks that May over the Crete Senesi, the lunarlike landscape that marked the Tuscan countryside southeast of Siena.
The Light in the Ruins
Chris Bohjalian, 2013
824 The impossible happens once to each of us.
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells
Andrew Sean Greer, 2013
825 In the vast valley north of Los Angeles, on a street of abandoned warehouses, behind a wall of corrugated metal topped with barbed wire, beyond an unused machine shop, in an unmarked prefab office building, inside a tiny bathroom with a hollow-core door, our first hero begins to tremble as she steps into a strange pair of pants.
Mackenzie Bezos, 2013
826 One evening, my father asked me whether I would like to become a ghost bride.
The Ghost Bride
Yangsze Choo, 2013
827 There are things we canít undo, but perhaps there is a kind of constructive remorse that could transform regrettable acts into something of service to life.
Gail Godwin, 2013
828 When the year turns, there are bells on the wind.
Quiet Dell
Jayne Anne Phillips, 2013
829 Some fifty years after the 1953 Moncada Army Barracks Raid, at nearly seven oíclock on the morning of July 26th, and at just the moment when the sunís rays rose magically from the edges of the earth, Fidel Perez, who had already ingested a quart of Chispa de tren, the cheapest beer his younger brother Rafael had found on the black market, was nursing a badly broken heart.
The Death of Fidel Perez
Elizabeth Huergo, 2013
830 There are yet states of being that have no name, anonymous human conditions that thrive at the periphery of powerful human emotion the way bedroom communities manacle a city.
Robert Boswell, 2013
831 And there he sat, all alone in the first pew.
& Sons
David Gilbert, 2013
832 The last time she knew anything about herself for certain, Florence was thirty-one years old and six-and-a-half weeks pregnant.
These are Our Children
Julie Maxwell, 2013
833 They would later say that the day we came into Chit Valley all the childrenís fevers broke and everybodyís bowels were righted.
The Blood of Heaven
Kent Wascom, 2013
834 She frightened me at every dawn the summer I stayed with her.
The Maidís Version
Daniel Woodrell, 2013
835 My journey began when the Americans bombed us, in 1943, because it was during the bombings that I met the girl.
The Third Son
Julie Wu, 2013
836 He saw him for the first time looking up from the shipís hold. His Brother.
The Big Crowd
Kevin Baker, 2013
837 While I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years.
The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt, 2013
838 East of the Tolly Club, after Deshapran Sashmal Road splits in two, there is a small mosque.
The Lowland
Jhumpa Lahiri, 2013
839 The odd thing is that when I looked into how I was being cheated, not because of the money but because of the principle of the thing (fathers shouldnít cheat sons), I discovered things about my family, and my grandmother in particular, that I never dreamed possible.
All the Dead Yale Men
Craig Nova, 2013
840 There was no reason to think anything would be different between me and my brother the previous summer, in 2005, when I called ahead to tell him I was coming back to Toronto to try out my new life as a single man.
Going Home Again
Dennis Bock, 2013
841 William had told the Kenners not to worry if they were a few minutes late, and he was foresuffering the moment when heíd have to reassure the Fitches that it was okay to be the first ones to arrive.
The Slippage
Ben Greenman, 2013
842 Itís important to choose the right moment to arrive at a party.
The Unknowns
Gabriel Roth, 2013
843 He had spent two days lying like the dead on his buffalo leather sofa.
In Times of Fading Light
Eugen Ruge, 2011 (tr. Anthea Bell, 2013)
844 When the rains came, they found the girlís face. Just her face. At least thatís how it appeared.
The Devil and the River
R.J. Ellory, 2013
845 The rain kept on like dust and it was the oldest boy G.D. who said it wasnít nothing, crossing through the woods behind Old Man Crookhandís.
Southern Cross the Dog
Bill Cheng, 2013
846 It was one of those easy May afternoons when everything, including the weather, seems to finally fall into place.
Sight Reading
Daphne Kalotay, 2013
847 Helen tried not to look at her watch, because looking at your watch never changed anything, but it was already a quarter to seven and her husbandís headlights had yet to appear at the top of the hill.
A Thousand Pardons
Jonathan Dee, 2013
848 Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops, and the quiet, abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly. Philadelphia had the musty scent of history. New Haven smelled of neglect. Baltimore smelled of brine, and Brooklyn of sun-warmed garbage. But Princeton had no smell.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2013
849 Four days before the bomb that is supposed to obliterate Bombay and kill us all, I stand in the ruins of Crawford Market, haggling with the lone remaining fruit seller over the price of the pomegranate in my hand.
The City of Devi
Manil Suri, 2013
850 It was a modified bomber. A Vickers Vimy. All wood and linen and wire.
Colum McCann, 2013
851 For a man whose adult life would come to be marked by so many strange and miraculous events, Montaro Caine had a comparatively unremarkable childhood.
Montaro Caine
Sidney Poitier, 2013
852 All night in darkness the water sped past.
All That Is
James Salter, 2013
853 I met Jim in July of 1983 on a tropical island rife with offshore breezes and nights lusty with renewal and reckless hope.
The Dream Merchant
Fred Waitzkin, 2013
854 It was the end of August, before the Perry Land and Cattle Companyís fall gather, and the ranch cowboys had too much time on their hands
Juliet in August
Dianne Warren, 2013
855 The autumn of my sixteenth birthday, I worked after school and on Sundays, serving apfelstrudel and einspanners at Ludwigís Cafť in the Raleigh Museum of Art.
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards
Kristopher Jansma, 2013
856 When the test came back the nurse called them into the examination room and when the doctor entered the room he just looked at them and asked them to sit down.
Kent Haruf, 2013
857 Hannah bent over her notebook in the half dark of the tiny room at the top of the house, squeezing the remainder of her entry onto the very last lines of the page:
The Movement of Stars
Amy Brill, 2013
858 Julie came to the cake-shop just to tell me they would be raffling coffeepots before they got to the lucky posy; sheíd seen them and they were lovely, an orange split in two, showing its pips, painted on a white background.
In Diamond Square
Merce Rodoreda, 1962 (tr. Peter Bush, 2013)
859 Two twists of smoke at a time of year too warm for cottage fires surprise us at first light, or they at least surprise those of us whoíve not been up to mischief in the dark.
Jim Crace, 2013
860 When Jack died I was real young, younger than I am now, and I said, in a temper, that I would never let it happen again. Jack was our cat.
The Fields
Kevin Maher, 2013
861 It all suited his sensibilities so, the silver tea sets that made a merry tinkling with the to and fro of the train, the quiet efficiency of the stewards, the reading car with its collection of newspapers.
The Grammarian
Annapurna Potluri, 2013
862 Once upon a time there were two people who fell very much in love.
Dreams and Shadows
C. Robert Cargill, 2013
863 It is unfortunate for me that I am, by most any objective measure, a genius.
Man in the Empty Suit
Sean Ferrell, 2013
864 When Ambassador Dengue Fever told me that Billy wasnít dead after all but half alive and back in town, skulking through the Transit Systemís blackened veins feral and broken and scrawling weird mambo-jahambo on the walls with chalkóchalk! As if spraypaint never existedóI pretty much just shrugged a whatever shrug and kept on selling hydroponic sinsemilla to stainless steel refrigerator owners living in neighborhoods that had just been invented, and hoping Karen would let me back in the apartment soon, me being her son and all, even if I had been expelled from fucking Whoopty Whoo Ivy League Weís A Cominí Academy on account of some Upper Eastside whiteboysí inability to keep my botanical enterprises, of which they were the main beneficiaries, on the low.
Rage is Back
Adam Mansbach, 2013
865 I am crouched in the darkness behind my bedroom door, listening for my wife to crack the silence with a sneeze or cough or some other little noise that tells me itís not safe to leave.
Hikikomori and the Rental Sister
Jeff Backhaus, 2013
866 The hearse pulled onto a scrubby track, travelled several hundred feet, and stopped.
White Dog Fell From the Sky
Eleanor Morse, 2013
867 It was true that Henry didnít entirely understand what, exactly, their magazine was really trying to achieve, although he enjoyed the fervor of his friends and the sort of conviction that everyone seemed to feel over the importance of the project.
The Best of Youth
Michael Dahlie, 2013
868 More times than he would care to count Will has witnessed his fatherís ability to silence a room merely by entering it.
Little Known Facts
Christine Sneed, 2013
869 There was a time when Ruby Cardillo did not obsess twenty-four/seven about what her husband and daughter were doing (or undoing) at that moment, and how their respective actions might impact her own, and what the repercussions might be from that moment on.
Tiger Rag
Nicholas Christopher, 2013
870 It had to be the strangest getaway in history.
Sex on the Moon
Ben Mezrich, 2011
871 I first heard of Antonia on what seemed to me an interminable journey across the great midland plain of North America.
My Antonia
Willa Cather, 1918
872 Dear Osama they want you dead or alive so the terror will stop.
Chris Cleave, 2005
873 The air was getting thick-if you like calling a garotte of diesel and greasy dirt "air"-and so before the burning rain began I stepped into the McDonalds.
The Stars at Noon
Denis Johnson, 1986
874 The book was placed on a high shelf in the den, as though it were the only copy in the world and if the children didn't find it they would be forever unaware of the sexual lives of their parents, forever ignorant of the press of hot skin, the overlapping voices, the stir and scrape of the brass headboard as it lightly battered the plaster, creating twin finial-shaped depressions over the years in the wall of the bedroom in which the parents slept, or didn't sleep, depending on the night.
The Position
Meg Wolitzer, 2005
875 There was, first, the dream.
The Blue Door
Andre Brink, 2006
876 Reading someone elseís e-mail is a quiet, clean enterprise.
Jane Hamilton, 2000
877 When Pemberton returned to the North Carolina mountains after three months in Boston settling his fatherís estate, among those waiting on the train platform was a young woman pregnant with Pembertonís child.
Ron Rash, 2008
878 The senator from the great state of New York had been droning on for over five minutes, droning about drones.
They Eat Puppies, Donít They?
Christopher Buckley, 2012
879 A white boy rode flatfoot on a skateboard, towed along, hand to shoulder, by a black boy pedalling a brakeless fixed-gear bike.
Telegraph Avenue
Michael Chabon, 2012
880 ďTurn around and let me look at you! What a sight! What are you wearing there, a priestís cassock or something? Is that how you run around at that academy of yours?Ē
Taras Bulba
Nikolai Gogol, 1835 (tr. Peter Constantine, 2003)
881 People were telling one another that a newcomer had been seen on the promenade--a lady with a dog.
The Lady with the Dog
Anton Chekhov, 1899 (tr. by Ivy Litvinov)
882 They murdered him.
The Chocolate War
Robert Cormier, 1974
883 How long have I been awake? Is it morning yet?
Remember Me?
Sophie Kinsella, 2008
884 My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.
Great Expectations
Charles Dickens, 1860
885 The way other people fantasize about surprise inheritances, first-glance love, and endless white empyreal pastures, Mitchell dreamed of an erupting supervolcano that would bury North America under a foot of hot ash.
Odds Against Tomorrow
Nathaniel Rich, 2013
886 It was just before 4:00 a.m. on a weekday.
4th of July
James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, 2005
887 When finally no one was watching her anymore, the beautiful young woman extracted herself from her parents and their friends and left the living room.
The Reserve
Russell Banks, 2008
888 Even the shit of a dog smells good to you, if its English.
Scenes From Early Life
Philip Hensher, 2012
889 Once when no one was buying my cartoons I took a job ripping off the Tom of Finland books for an unscrupulous publisher of gay eroticism.
Kalooki Nights
Howard Jacobson, 2006
890 This is how it was for certain boys in Chicago, the sons of lawyers.
Love and Shame and Love
Peter Orner, 2011
891 I am in a car park in Leeds when I tell my husband I donít want to be married to him any more.
How to be Good
Nick Hornby, 2001
892 There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you arenít in a hurry, like maybe if youíre wearing platform shoes.
Me Before You
Jojo Moyes, 2012
893 The first hippopotamus, a male the colour of black pearls weighing a ton and a half, was shot dead in 2009.
The Sound of Things Falling
Juan Gabriel Vasquez, 2011 (tr. Anne McLean, 2012)
894 After five years of high school the final November arrives and leaves as suddenly as a spring storm.
Big World (from The Turning)
Tim Winton, 2004
895They didnít see Africa until half past eleven.
The Forgiven
Lawrence Osborne, 2012
896 Donít look for dignity in public bathrooms.
Big Machine
Victor LaValle, 2009
897 It was today -- rather yesterday I think -- that he told me it was important not to accept life as a brutal approximation.
Jim Harrison, 1988
898 I am told that the first comprehensible word I uttered as a child was "home."
Home: A Memoir of My Early Years
Julie Andrews, 2008
899 Elmer Gantry was drunk.
Elmer Gantry
Sinclair Lewis, 1927
900 You may call me D.T.
The Castle in the Forest
Norman Mailer, 2007

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