What is the Best Opening Sentence to a Novel You have Read?

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

That's my favourite above.

It's from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Here's what I love about it:

  • "Many years later" forces us to think "oooh, 'later', what had happened before. There must be a backstory."
  • "he faced the firing squad" - what? This is getting serious, and I'm only 4 words into the book so far. What's he doing facing a firing squad.
  • "Cononel" - ah, he was in the army. That explains something. Must have been court-martialed or something. I wonder why?
  • "Distant afternoon" - must have been a long time ago, or he must feel it was a long time ago, or life must have changed a lot in the meantime for him, if that afternoon seems "distant" now
  • "his father took him to discover" - nice, he has a father who cares and is interested in taking him to places/things. I wonder what he is going to see on this adventure.
  • "ice" - seriously? "Ice". He had never seen ice before? This book is crazy in the best possible way. I want to read more.

Guess what? The second sentence is just as good.

Filed Under:

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitidude
  2. Gabriel Garcia Marquez