What are the best first lines in fiction? Got a favourite not in here?
There’s a feeling that choosing a book by its opening line is somehow more respectable than judging it by its cover. But both are a form of advertising and just as there’s something to be said for being swayed by a novel’s jacket (an entire team of professionals have laboured to ensure that it sends precisely the right message), so we’d be dolts to place too much emphasis on its opening sentence. After all, some excellent novels have entirely forgettable, if not actively off-putting, first lines. Here’s Ian McEwan’s feted The Child In Time: “Subsidising public transport had long been associated in the minds of both Government and the majority of its public with the denial of individual liberty”.
I’m out, Ian McEwan.