54 great opening lines: 6

The day broke grey and dull.

Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham


It’s a great opening line, and it sets the mood for the book, even to the contrasting last line:

‘Cabs and omnibuses hurried to and fro, and crowds passed, hastening in every direction, and the sun was shining.’,

a line which I assume is supposed to fill the reader with optimism.  I closed this book with a groan, my mood still grey and dull.

3 thoughts on “54 great opening lines: 6

  1. Speaking of ambiguities in the weather, the book I opened this morning began:
    “Later, the one who survives will remember that day as grey, but on the morning of 9 August itself both the man from Berlin, Konrad Weiss, and the schoolteacher, Hiroko Tanaka, step out of their houses and notice the perfect blueness of the sky, into which white smoke blooms from the chimneys of the munitions factories.”


    • Grey, then, is not always a colour. Sometimes it’s an absence of anything good. What book are you reading? I don’t recognise it, but it certainly has an opening line that tells me to read more.


      • Yes, I agree about grey being more than a colour. As soon as I hit reply button I remembered I’d forgotten to tell you it’s “Burnt Shadows” by Kamila Shamsie, Bloomsbury 2009 – shortlisted for the Orange Prize (presumably 2009 – it takes a while for us to get books here in Paradise). I’m looking forward to lunch and an afternoon’s reading …


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