This is a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. You can find out more and follow along there!
This week’s topic is favorite beginnings and endings. I did find ten, and I’m sure there are others that I missed. I also didn’t include the ones that are super, super famous (“It was a pleasure to burn,” or “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day,” or “It is a truth universally acknowledged…”). Except that I immediately broke that rule. But I couldn’t help it!
1. “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Okay, yes, I put the end of A Tale of Two Cities on my list. Because, ever since I first read it at 13, I have not been able to read the last page of that book without choking up, at best, and full on sobbing, at worst. Powerful stuff.
2. “I love you, I love you, I love you.” I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
In and of itself, it’s not especially memorable, but the whole last scene is wonderfully atmospheric, FRUSTRATING, and beautiful.
3. “They kissed once. Then he turned upon his heel and disappeared into the Darkness.” Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
You may have gathered from my first three here that I have a bit of a thing for slightly ambiguous, not entirely happy endings. You would be right. But, oh man, the end of Jonathan Strange! Clarke’s writing throughout the book is superb and the last scene is lovely and almost elegiac.
4. “Polly sighed and laid her book face down on her bed. She rather thought she had read it after all, some time ago.” Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
Here’s a first line for a change! I really like this one because it sets up the whole central plot of what Polly remembers. Which, of course, the line following about someone telling her to always use a bookmark does much more strongly.
5. “And she believed him.” The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Back to endings–again, it’s maybe not much by itself, but in the context of the whole book, which is all about love and redemption and belief, it’s SO powerful.
6. “She could feel the Big Hill looking down as the Crowd danced at Tib’s wedding in the chocolate-colored house.” Betsy’s Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace
Is there a more perfect end to a series than Betsy’s Wedding? Again, this is a lot about the accumulated effect of the books. By the time we get to this point, the Big Hill and the chocolate-colored house are almost as much a part of the reader’s internal mythology as the characters’. And by the reader, I mean me.
7. “It was a burnished, cloudless day with a tug-of-war wind, a fine day for flying. And so Raglan Skein left his body neatly laid out on his bed, its breath as slow as sea swell, and took to the sky.” The Lost Conspiracy, by Frances Hardinge
I looovvveee Frances Hardinge–actually, she should have been on my list of authors who deserve more recognition. The worlds she creates are beautiful and unique, and so is her writing, pulling you in from the very first sentence and keeping you wrapped up in its magic until the last.
8. “It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
This was one of my favorite openings in 2011. Again, it’s the sort of first line that makes it almost impossible to do anything but keep reading, and it’s the perfect beginning to a book that keeps that strength of voice from beginning to end.
9. “But a part of me lies buried in lace and roses on a riverbank in France-a part of me is broken off forever. A part of me will be unflyable, stuck in the climb.” Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Okay, this one is cheating slightly, because technically it’s not the very end of the book (it’s followed by a letter). But, as much as I love that letter and the way it wraps things up, this is the end I remember, and cry over.
10. “Roger, aged seven, and no longer the youngest of the family, ran in wide zigzags, to and fro, across the steep field that sloped up from the lake to Holly Howe, the farm where they were staying for that part of the summer holidays.” Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
I love Swallows and Amazons so much. Even though in and of itself this isn’t a hugely spectacular beginning, it’s so familiar that I definitely have to list it here. Like wrapping yourself in your favorite blankie.