First Lines

Currently I’m reading The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann, but I’m getting increasingly tired of it. It maybe very well written, chronicling (in detail) the tension and despair in Olivia Curtis’s life as she has an affair with a married man in the 1930s, and no doubt it captures the spirit of the times of the interwar years but I just want to shake her. I’m probably in the wrong frame of mind to read it right now with its stream of consciousness style of writing and the small font that is blurring in front of my eyes as I read.

So this morning instead of struggling on with it I opened Once a Biker by Peter Turnbull, a Hennessey and Yellich mystery and began reading. It was a relief – the font size is much bigger, the writing is straightforward and the action is quick-moving.

I’ll write more about both books when I’ve finished them, but for now here are the opening lines of Once a Biker:

Monday, 17th June, 09.05 hours – 23.42 hours in which a realization comes to a dying man.

She had found the hospice had a wholly unexpected air of happiness about it. The peace of the institution she could understand, and indeed expected, as with the atmosphere of resignation, but the happiness of those awaiting death was something that came as a surprise. (page 1)

and of The Weather in the Streets:

Turning over in bed, she was aware of a summons: Rouse yourself. Float up, up from the submerging element … But it’s still night, surely … She opened one eye. Everything was in darkness; a dun glimmer mourned in the crack between the curtains. Fog stung faintly in nose, eyelids. So what was it: the fog had come down again: it might be morning. But I hadn’t been called yet. What was it woke me? Listen: yes the telephone, ringing downstairs in Etty’s sitting room; ringing goodness knows how long, nobody to answer it. (page 1)

Both books invite me to carry on reading. They are very different genres, but I’m keener to find out who killed Terry North, whose body has been found buried in a wood, twenty years after he disappeared, than I am to find out how Olivia’s affair progresses. I suspect it’s doomed.

A Book Beginnings post hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages.

6 thoughts on “First Lines

  1. Margaret – Interesting comparison of those two very different books. I think it’s interesting how our mood and other factors like that can have so much t do with whether we like a book. I’ll be eager to see what you think of both of these books when you’ve finished them.


  2. Hi Margaret,

    I can relate totally to the opening lines of ‘Once A Biker’. I volunteer for my local hospice, mainly in the retail shop, although I have visited the hospice several times and I am always amazed at the air of calm and the sense of happiness that prevails.

    Peter Turnbull is another name I haven’t come across before, I’m beginning to think that I live on another planet, or maybe it’s just that there are too many books out there!!!

    I love crime books, so this is another definite for the list of books that I have been banned from buying!!!!


  3. I’m much more tempted by the sentence from Once a Biker than I am by the one from Weather in the Streets. I tend to get impatient with characters and want to shake some sense into them like you do. Although it is fun when I find myself shouting “Don’t go in there, you idiot!” when you know that’s exactly what the character must do or there wouldn’t be much of a story. It all depends on your mood and the quality of the writing, I suppose.


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