Helen Cresswell Post – First Lines

The first line of Ordinary Jack is:

“When Rosie, who was only eight anyway, beat him doing ten lengths of the pool, it was the last straw.”

Perhaps now you see why I almost gave up on the book before becoming a Bagthorpe fan. That’s dull. Who wants to read about swimming? Luckily, by the end of the chapter there’s mayhem and destruction and the Bagthorpes are properly off and running.

 Compare it to the madcap opening of the sequel Absolute Zero:

The whole thing started when Uncle Parker won a cruise in the Caribbean for two after filling in a leaflet he had idly picked up in the village shop. The minute the news was known in the Bagthorpe household disbelief, annoyance and downright jealousy began to generate into what became, inevitably, an All Out Furor.

and here’s the start of book 3:

If one had to pinpoint the event that sent the Bagthorpes plunging into the madness that was to possess them for a whole season…

Now for The Beachcombers, which is a wholly different type of book:

It was Ned who wrote this story, of course. It could have been no one else. Only Ned could have known so much about the two Worlds of the Dallakers and the Pickerings — so much detail, from the scarred and barnacled sides of the Sea Queen, to the stained oilcloth on that scullery table in the dark basement.

And Winter of the Birds:

All the drafts in the world go past this corner. I am an old man to be living alone. Old and impossible I am and they all say it, and keep away as much as they can.

(In the next few paragraphs the old man gets into those terrifying descriptions of the birds: “I see the birds that do not fly, but run on wires.”)

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One Response

  1. Love the Absolute Zero opening! Thanks for these!

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