As promised, here are the answers to the “first lines” challenge I posted last week. Click here if you’d like to try to guess some of the books before reading the answers below.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
—The opening of Rebecca (1938) by Daphne du Maurier
1. The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored.
—Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (2015) [Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel, PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Shortlist]
2. Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tidewater dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego.
—Jack London, Call of the Wild (1903)
3. For a week Mr. R. Childan had been anxiously watching the mail. But the valuable shipment from the Rocky Mountain States had not arrived.
—Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle (1962) [Hugo Award for Best Novel and the basis for the recent Amazon Prime original tv series]
4. Manfred, Prince of Otranto, had one son and one daughter: the latter, a most beautiful virgin, aged eighteen, was called Matilda.
—Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (1764) [The Castle of Otranto is widely regarded as the first gothic novel]
5. When you are alone and too tired even to turn on any of your devices, you let yourself linger in a past stacked among your pillows.
—Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014) [National Book Award Finalist for Poetry and a good one to have handy if you find yourself racially profiled at a Trump rally]
6. There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks.
—Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train (2015) [Goodreads Choice Award for Best Mystery or Thriller]
7. The purser took the last landing-card in his hand and watched the passengers cross the wet quay, over a wilderness of rails and points, round the corners of abandoned trucks.
—Graham Greene, Orient Express (1932)
8. “Tom!” No answer. “Tom!” No answer.
—Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
9. On the pleasant banks of the Garonne, in the province of Gascony, stood, in the year 1584, the chateau of Monsieur St. Aubert.
—Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) [the archetypal gothic novel that plays a key role in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey]
10. The eldest six of Francis and Viola Turner’s thirteen children claimed that the big room of the house on Yarrow Street was haunted for at least one night.
—Angela Flournoy, The Turner House (2015) [National Book Award Finalist for Fiction]
11. After the funeral they came back to the house, now indisputably Mrs. Halloran’s.
—Shirley Jackson, The Sundial (1958)
12. One hot spring evening, just as the sun was going down, two men appeared at Patriarch’s Ponds.
—Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (1967)
Baker’s Dozen Bonus: I used to love this season. The wood stacked by the door, the tang of its sap still speaking of forest. The hay made, all golden in the low afternoon light. The rumble of the apples tumbling into the cellar bins.
—Geraldine Brooks, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague (2001)
Double-Secret-Probation Bonus Round: My mother selected her wings as early morning light reached through our balcony shutters.
—Fran Wilde, Updraft (2015) [the only author on this list who bothered to pass through my living room on the book tour (I’m looking at you, Mark Twain!)]
Congrats to Amy who guessed three of these correctly!
Which one(s) are you kicking yourself over?
Look for reviews and comments on these selections and more in my traditional “Year in Books” post at the end of the month.