Once upon a time…

once-upon-a-timeA killer opening line sticks with us long after finishing the last page of a novel. Here’s a few of our favourites.


“Incurably insomniac, Anton Vowl turns on a light.”

A Void, Georges Perec.

Not a solitary ‘e’ to spot. Our author can’t possibly finish a book with no ‘e’… can h…

Ezri Carlebach



“A screaming came across the sky.”

Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pyncheon.

I do like opening this opening line. For a novel ostensibly about the V2 rocket programme , it’s hard to beat.

Roger Horberry



“They’re out there.”

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey


“Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality, were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its outer walls.”

Titus Groan, Mervyn Peake


Leaving aside the obviously gorgeous Lolita, those are my two favourite openings to novels.

Kirsten Irving



You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler.”

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino


“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

The Catcher in the Rye, J D Salinger.

Sarah Farley



It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.”

Catch-22, Joseph Heller

I think I’ve probably said my piece on first lines in “We, me, them & it” where I put the LP Hartley quote as my favourite. I also listed the above from Catch-22.

John Simmons



“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka


“You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning.”

Bright Lights, Big City, Brett Easton Ellis


“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliana Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

Elena Bowes



This is the saddest story I’ve ever heard.”

The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford


“His children are falling from the sky.”

Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel

Laura Hunter


‘The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.’

The Go-Between, LP Hartley


‘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.

Elen Lewis

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.