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BOOKS (FIRST LINES)
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[ Also see Books Books (Last Lines) Books (Quotes) Quotations ]

Pickering's letter bringing news of my grandfather's death found me at Naples early in October.
      - Meredith Nicholson,
        The House of a Thousand Candles [1905]

"The knowledge that you're alive gives me no pleasure," growled the grim old Austrian premier.
      - Meredith Nicholson,
        The Port of Missing Men [1907] (ch. 1)

This day my good friend William Elphinstone was laid to rest, in the Lutheran churchyard on the east bank of the river, not five cable-lengths from the hospital. Mr. Sparling, Surgeon-General of Batavia, helped me into the boat, and two of his Malay servants were waiting on the bank, with a litter to convey me to the grave.
      - Charles Nordhoff and James Hall,
        Men Against the Sea [1933] (ch. 1)

The British are frequently criticized by other nations for their dislike of change, and indeed we love England for those aspects of nature and life which change the least. Here in the West Country, where I was born, men are slow of speech, tenacious of opinion, and averse--beyond their countrymen elsewhere--to innovation of any sort.
      - Charles Nordhoff and James Hall,
        Mutiny on the Bounty [1932] (ch. 1)

On a day late in December, in the year of 1789, while the earth turned steadily on its course, a moment came when the sunlight illuminated San Roque, easternmost cape of the three Americas. Moving swiftly westward, a thousand miles each hour, the light swept over the jungle of the Amazons, and glittered along the icy summits of the Andes. Presently the level rays brought day to the Peruvian coast and moved on, across a vast stretch of lonely sea.
      - Charles Nordhoff and James Hall,
        Pitcairn's Island [1934] (ch. 1)

Scattered over a thousand miles of ocean in the eastern tropical Pacific, below the Equator, lies a vast collection of coral islands extending in a general northwesterly, southeasterly direction across ten degrees of latitude. Seventy-eight atolls, surf-battered dykes of coral, enclosing lagoons, make up this barrier to the steady westward roll of the sea.
      - Charles Nordhoff and James Hall,
        The Hurricane [1935] (ch. 1)

At four o'clock in the morning everybody in the tent was still asleep, exhausted by the terrible march of the previous day.
      - Frank Norris, A Man's Woman [1900]

It had just struck nine from the cuckoo clock that hung over the mantelpiece in the dining-room, when Victorine brought in the halved watermelon and set if in front of Mr. Bessemer's plate.
      - Frank Norris, Blix [1899]

It was Sunday, and, according to his custom on that day, McTeague took his dinner at two in the afternoon at the car conductors' coffee-joint on Polk Street.
      - Frank Norris, McTeague [1899]

Just after passing Caraher's saloon, on the County Road that ran south from Bonneville, and that divided the Broderson ranch from that of Los Muertos, Presley was suddenly aware of the faint and prolonged blowing of a steam whistle that he knew must come from the railroad shops near the depot at Bonneville.
      - Frank Norris, The Octopus [1901]

At eight o'clock in the inner vestibule of the Auditorium Theatre by the window of the box office, Laura Dearborn, her younger sister Page, and their aunt--Aunt Wess'--were still waiting for the rest of the theatre-party to appear.
      - Frank Norris, The Pit [1903]

It was always a matter of wonder to Vandover that he was able to recall so little of his past life.
      - Frank Norris, Vandover and the Brute [1914]

Richard Carter had called the place "Crownlands," not to please himself, or even his wife. But it was to his mother's newly born family pride that the idea of being the Carters of Crownlands made its appeal.
      - Kathleen Norris (nee Kathleen Thompson and wife of C.G. Norris),
        Harriet and the Piper [1920] (ch. I)

The day had opened so brightly, in such a welcome wave of April sunshine, that by mid-afternoon there were two hundred players scattered over the links of the Long Island Country Club at Belvedere Bay; the men in thick plaid stockings and loose striped sweaters, the women's scarlet coats and white skirts making splashes of vivid color against the fresh green of grass and the thick powdering of dandelions.
      - Kathleen Norris (nee Kathleen Thompson and wife of C.G. Norris),
        The Heart of Rachael [1916] (book I, ch. I)

Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes' chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression. I reflected on the subject of my spare-time literary activities. One beginning and one ending for a book was a thing I did not agree with.
      - Flann O'Brien (pseudonym of Brian O'Nolan),
        At Swim-Two-Birds [1939]

Our story opens in the mind of Luther L. (L for LeRoy) Fliegler, who is lying in his bed, not thinking of anything, but just aware of sounds, conscious of his own breathing, and sensitive to his own heartbeats. Lying beside him is his wife, lying on her right side and enjoying her sleep.
      - John O'Hara, Appointment in Samarra [1934]
         (ch. 1)

The king sits in Dunfermline town
  Drinking the blude-red wine.
      - Old Ballad, Sir Patrick Spens

The trouble from which great events were to come began when Everard Dominey, who had been fighting his way through the scrub for the last three quarters of an hour towards those thin, spiral wisps of smoke, urged his pony to a last despairing effort and came crashing through the great oleander shrub to pitch forward on his head in the little clearing. It developed the next morning, when he found himself for the first time for many months on the truckle bed, between linen sheets, with a cool, bamboo-twisted roof between him and the relentless sun. He raised himself a little in the bed.
      - Edward Phillips Oppenheim,
        The Great Impersonation [1920] (ch. I)

The usual little crowd was waiting in the lobby of a fashionable London restaurant a few minutes before the popular lunch hour. Pamela Van Teyl, a very beautiful American girl, dressed in the extreme of fashion, which she seemed somehow to justify, directed the attention of her companions to the notice affixed to the wall facing them.
      - Edward Phillips Oppenheim, The Pawns Count [1918]
         (ch. 1)

A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate. The hour, some little time before sunset, and the place, the West Barricade, at the very spot where, a decade later, a proud tyrant raised an undying monument to the nation's glory and his own vanity.
      - Baroness Emmuska Orczy (Mrs. Montagu Barstow),
        The Scarlet Pimpernel [1905]

The idea really came to me the day I got my new false teeth.
      - George Orwell (pseudonym of Eric Blair),
        Coming Up for Air [1939]

The clock struck half past two. In the little office at the back of Mr. McKechnie's bookshop, Gordon--Gordon Comstock, last member of the Comstock family, aged twenty-nine and rather moth-eaten already--lounged across the table, pushing a fourpenny packet of Player's Weights open and shut with his thumb.
      - George Orwell (pseudonym of Eric Blair),
        Keep the Aspidistra Flying [1936]

"I don't say but what he's difficult to please with his Tops," said Mr. Rake, factotum to the Hon. Bertie Cecil, of the 1st Life Guards, with that article of hunting toggery suspended in his right hand as he paused, before going upstairs, to deliver his opinions with characteristic weight and vivacity to the stud-groom, "he is uncommon particular about 'em; and if his leathers aint as white as snow he'll never touch 'em, tho' as soon as the pack come nigh him at Royallieu, the leathers might just as well never have been cleaned, them hounds jump about him so; old Champion's at his saddle before you can say Davy Jones. . . ."
      - Ouida (pseudonym of Marie Louise de la Ramee),
        Under Two Flags [1867]

For half an hour Matthew had known by the gleam of his mother's cap though the window that she was at work at her loom, and for half an hour he had been chopping steadily, swoop up, down smash, swoop up, down smash and a rending crack as the fibers of the wood gave way.
      - Elizabeth Page, The Tree of Liberty [1939]
         (pt. 1, ch. 1)

Gordon Keith was the son a gentleman.
      - Thomas Nelson Page, Gordon Keith [1903] (ch. 1)


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