I am returning with snippets of some books that I have recently read. These are the opening paragraphs of each. Would you read on? Which snippets most appeal to you as a reader?
'When Lady Ann Sercomb married George Smiley towards the end of the war she described him to her astonished Mayfair friends as breathtakingly ordinary. When she left him two years later in favour of a Cuban motor racing driver, she announced that if she hadn't left him then, she never could have done; and Viscount Sawley made a special journey to his club to observe that the cat was out of the bag.'
'The greatness of Carne School has been ascribed by common consent to Edward V1, whose educational zeal is ascribed by history to the Duke of Somerset. But Carne prefers the respectability of the monarch to the questionable politics of his adviser, drawing strength from the conviction that Great Schools, like Tudor Kings, were ordained in Heaven.'
'On a Thursday morning we had spelling, and if you didn't get seventeen out of twenty, you were caned. Sometimes I scraped it but more often than not I found myself, along with Black II, Fumphy Friars and a serial misspeller named Denny Gibson, whose only mistake, it's frightening to speculate, was to be born dyslexic, bending over in front of the class for three of the best. I would cry a little, and afterwards I would run outside and round the back of the hedge to the woodworking shed for some comfort and solace from Willie Edgar, the school carpenter.'
'I kicked off my slippers and lifted the quilt, climbing in at the end of Cissy's bed and there, with my back pressed against the brass bars, with my arms wrapped round knees drawn up to my breast, I looked at my aunt again. Her hair was spread loose on the pillow, her eyes were wide open, glistening and dark, and so lovely she was, so fragile that night, and I honestly thought that she'd never so much resembled that girl in the painting, in the Millais that hung in the hall. And with that in mind, I suddenly asked, 'Cissy, why did you give up the stage? Why have you only come back to it now? And why did you never marry … always living with mama and me? Did you never fall in love?'
'I did love someone … once.''
'I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cosy. I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring – I wrote my very best poem while sitting in the hen house.'
I shall reveal the sources in a later blog, but am interested in discovering what draws you.