54 great opening lines: 53

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James


A book I’ve begun but not yet finished.  However, since this is about opening lines, I submit this one as a favourite.  I recently tried to describe ‘afternoon tea’ to an older French woman who thought eating mid-afternoon was an odd thing.  When I turned up at her apartment the next afternoon with pastries and asking for her to put the kettle on, she chose not to eat or drink anything and simply sat watching me enjoy what Henry James and I call an agreeable hour.

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