As the year draws to a close, all sorts of ‘Best of 2014’ lists are popping up. And there are a couple of books that keep appearing on ‘Best books for 2014’ lists that I haven’t yet read, despite owning them – Nora Webster by Colm Toibin, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Strays by Emily Bitto.
So I’m stretching the parameters of First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday (hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea) and presenting four opening paragraphs and a poll – you decide which book I should read next.
Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
“You must be fed up of them. Will they never stop coming?” Tom O’Connor, her neighbour, stood at his front door and looked at her, waiting for a response.
“I know,” she said.
“Just don’t answer the door. That’s what I’d do.”
Nora closed the garden gate. “They mean well. People mean well,” she said.
“Night after night,” he said. “I don’t know how you put up with it.”
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The Barbers had said they would arrive by three. It was like waiting to begin a journey, Frances thought. She and her mother had spent the morning watching the clock, unable to relax. At half-past two she had gone wistfully over the rooms for what she’d supposed was the final time; after that there had been a nerving-up, giving way to a steady deflation, and now, at almost five, here she was again, listening to the echo of her own footsteps, feeling no sort of fondness for the sparsely furnished spaces, impatient simply for the couple to arrive, move in, get it over with.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
7 August 1944
At dusk they pour from the sky. They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses. Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobbles. ‘Urgent message to the inhabitants of this town,’ they say. ‘Depart immediately to open country.’
The Strays by Emily Bitto
I once read that the heart’s magnetic field radiates up to five metres from the body, so that whenever we are within this range of another person our hearts are interacting. The body’s silent communications with other bodies are unmapped and mysterious, a linguistics of scent, colour, flushes of heat, the dilating of a pupil. Who knows, what we call instant attraction may be as random as the momentary synchrony of two hearts’ magnetic pulses.
Which opening paragraph appeals to you?