It Was The Best of Sentences…
I had to post this link from NPR about its pick of the top 10 best sentences in literature. It Was The Best Of Sentences …
One of my favorite opening lines comes from Jane Austen’s “Emma”:
Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
You know almost everything about her in just one sentence. I absolutely adore how Jane Austen frames the inital description of Emma- “handsome, clever, and rich”- in exact order of importance. And how the sentence ends- “very little to distress or vex her”- simply implies that she will soon be vexed. Perfection and deliciousness in one tiny sentence. Love!
I often judge a book by its first sentence, but I also love certain sentences in several books that fall somewhere in the middle. Here are two that I fondly remember for one reason or another:
“Pass the damn ham” by Scout, trying to test out her pre-teen rebellion at dinner, in “To Kill a Mockingbird” still rings funny and true in my mind after all these years.
“Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernieres has many great quotes, but the one that always gets me is near the end of the story when Pelagia and Corelli, now both in old age, finally reunite as long-lost lovers and Pelagia says to Corelli, “You owe me a life”. The sentence speaks volumes of the distance and pain they endured by being torn apart by war.
Enjoy the NPR list- agree or disagree- and feel free to post in the comments any of your favorites sentences!