Starting today, I’ll be doing a #fridayfavorites which, hopefully, will be a weekly thing. There will (might) be other daily posts coming soon as well. #FridayFavorites can be anything from covers, shelves, books (separated by genre/period/series v. nonseries), etc.
For this Friday, it will be first lines from books. First lines from books are powerful. They can invite and intrigue; they create powerful emotions in their readers. Below are my top 5 favorite first lines.
5. “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” Virginia Woolfe, Mrs. Dalloway
It’s beautiful simplicity pulls me in. The fact that she takes charge, goes outside social and gender constraints, shows how the novel unfolds.
4. “The scientist had forgotten all about the radium.” Kate Moore, The Radium Girls
I may be in the minority, but I truly believe that non-fiction can have just as powerful of a pull as fiction. Moore writes about the radium-dial girls who eventually die of radium poisoning. Beautiful and heartbreaking, she is able to blend the science, social issues, and history into a story that makes you want to continue reading. This first line is the start of that, but also, it brings to mind throughout the book that fact that instead of the radium being forgotten about, it’s the girls who are forgotten.
3. “Of all my many murders, committed for love and for better reasons, the first was the most important.” Lyndsay Faye, Jane Steele
I am here for retelling stories. Whether retellings of classic novels or fairy-tales, I will eat them up. This is a retelling of Jane Eyre, and I was immediately pulled in. Victorian era Jane Eyre killing people because they deserved it, yes, please.
2. “I AM A COWARD.” Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity
Okay, talking about this line would give away the twist at the end, which I don’t want to do in case you haven’t read it. I remember picking this book up in a bookstore and reading that first line. I had to know what was going on and what was happening to the narrator.
- “They shoot the white girl first.” Toni Morrison, Paradise
Toni Morrison is a master storyteller. This line from one of her lesser known books, grabbed my attention on the onset. This is not only one of my favorite first lines, but one of my favorite books. The idea of women creating their own community, and then the patriarchy destroying it out of fear is so accurate for real life. With this line though, readers never find out who the white girl is. Each woman in the story is never described by skin tone, ethnicity, etc. We don’t know who the white girl is because it doesn’t matter who the white girl is.
What are some of your favorite first lines?