WELL-READ REVIEWS have a weekly look at first lines of novels. This is bookgroupies choice:
Death is outside life but alters it: it leaves a hole in the fabric of things which those who are left behind try to repair.
This is the opening line of Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers.
I had to read the opening a couple of times before I got the gist of it, and the opening continued in the same vein – wordy and slow. If I hadn’t been reading it for a local reading group I probably would have given up by page 40, but when it’s for a group discussion I get this I-must-finish-my-homework mentality! So I persevered and was glad I did.
The book is about a retired teacher who decides, on the death of her one close friend, to go to Venice and live there for six months. She is gradually seduced by the place, its history and culture, and meets some mysterious characters. In parallel runs a biblical story of Tobias and the Archangel Raphael, and gradually you discover how the two stories overlap.
I suppose the opening warns you that this is not going to set a fast, breathless pace – it’s more reflective and you have to work your way into the novel at a stroll. In fact the main character, Miss Garnet, does a lot of strolling around Venice. It’s very atmospheric and will do wonders for the Venitian tourist board.
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