I saw this and couldn’t resist answering. My favorite, of course, is the opening line of Pride and Prejudice.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
It makes Austen’s satirical overtones clear from the beginning, particularly when compared to the follow-up, where Austen makes clear that it is not the single man thinking this, but a matchmaking mama who wants her daughter to marry said man.
Another favorite is the opening of A Tale of Two Cities. I can’t fully transcribe it from memory (too many comparisons and semicolons, not enough periods), but I’m sure everyone knows it anyway. Dickens uses it to set the tone of parallels and disparities for the whole novel on that first page. And even when someone doesn’t remember what happens with the rest of the story, the opening still rings in memory.
An opening for a more recent read that intrigued me was the opening sentence of On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, which reads: “They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible.” Again, with that one sentence, the tone of the rest of the novel is set.
I’ll update in a little bit with my mid-year reading assessment.