54 great opening lines: 52

In M-, an important town in northern Italy, the widowed Marquise of O-, a lady of excellent reputation and mother of several well-bred children, had the following announcement published in the newspapers:  that she had, without knowing the cause, come to find herself in an interesting condition, that she wished the father of the child she was expecting to present himself;  and that she was resolved, out of consideration for her family, to marry him.

The Marquise of O-, Heinrich Von Kleist (Translated by Martin Greenberg)


I started reading this story because it was recommended in a book about writing, but I continued it after the opening line because I wanted to know whether the father would turn up and how he would prove his paternity.

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