All this happened, more or less
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
I have read a lot of wonderful books that don’t necessarily enthrall me from the first sentence. Their gems are tucked away, requiring some time and patience to find. But it would seem that the most esteemed writers, past and present, know how to craft that ever-important first sentence.
The editors of American Book Review compiled a list of what they consider the most memorable first lines of novels.
My favorites from the list range from Charles Dickens to Vladimir Nabokov:
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. —Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure in the windowpane; —Vladimir Nabokov, The Pale Fire
Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. —Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. —Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Do you have any favorites?