Hookline Books

Showing Tag: ""first lines"" (Show all posts)

The joy of a first line

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Thursday, June 4, 2015,
There is nothing like a first line to draw you into a book.

My favourite:
"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person." Haven't we all had that feeling? And don't we want to know more? This is from Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups.

I also love Tolstoy's Anna Karenina: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

The joy of a good first line is that it pulls you into story - a bad first line, however, makes you ...
Continue reading ...

First lines

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, August 14, 2012,
I love first lines - or hate them if they are really bad. When browsing a book shop, the first line has to grab me. If it isn't awful, I am likely to proceed to the next and onward through the whole paragraph - and if that keeps me happy, then the book is mine.
At the moment I'm reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. The first line isn't superb: Schwartz didn't notice the kid during the game.
Not wonderful, but I do want to know why Schwartz notices the kid now. 
 This is a novel centered ...

Continue reading ...

First Lines - Yours!

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Monday, February 20, 2012,
We've received a few favourite first lines from readers:

'It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.' from George Orwell's 1984.
I haven't read this novel but the first line definitely wakes up the reader.

Another old classic came forth:

'Happy Families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way' from Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. A thought that cannot be denied.

But we also had first lines submitted from contemporary fiction:

'I'm unsure why one trifli...
Continue reading ...

First lines - the good, the bad and the plain old ugly

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Friday, February 17, 2012,
Sorry to harp on about these, but when browsing a book shop I am more likely to read the first line than the back cover. A good first line will make me read on, perhaps even to the end of the page. A bad first line, one that lies in a quagmire of unprepared detail, can make me shiver as I shut the page fast before it leaks out. Consider:
 The news about Walter Bergland wasn't picked up locally - he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now - b...

Continue reading ...

The best first lines are the simple ones

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Wednesday, February 15, 2012,
For the next few days I will be airing my favourite first lines - and looking at why I think they work.
Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan sets the topic of the novel with his introductory sentence: They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible.
This novel is immersed in sex and intimacy, and this first sentence immediately introduces the reader to the characters and their challenge...
Continue reading ...

First Lines

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, February 14, 2012,
First lines are the entry into a novel. If you're like me, you read the first few lines, paragraphs or even pages when browsing for something to read. And if you're like me, a good first line can pull you straight into a story and have you at the till, ready to purchase, without a second thought. 
I felt like this when I opened Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups and read, One upon a time there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.
I so wanted to know more.
The mos...

Continue reading ...

About Me

Yvonne Barlow Editor at Hookline Books - where book clubs and readers choose the novels that go to print.