TCL’s First Lines Friday #2 for March 11, 2022!

First Lines Friday LogoFirst Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers that was originally hosted by Emma @ (the apparently, now defunct) Wandering Words, but Julie @ One Book More is still putting up these posts. There was another (now defunct) blog that had “First Impressions Friday” which Nina @ The Cozy Pages still participates in, but the link back to the originator is dead as well. I’ve seen this on several other blogs over the years, but with all the originators dead links, I guess it now has a life of its own!

But who cares, right? Since I don’t have a book review for today (and not even a DNF to tell you about), I’m joining in again! The premise is:

What if, instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

To participate, you only need to do three things:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or one on your TBR) and open to the first page;
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first;
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Simple, right? So, without any further ado…

Here are the opening paragraphs…

Watch your hurt heart when it wavers,
Keep your clay cool on the shelf.
Avoid other flesh and its flavours.
Keep yourself to yourself

From ‘Never Take Sweets from a Stranger’
by Charles Causley, an early work excluded
by the poet from his Collected Poems


The ship was under attack and horribly exposed by a clear night and a full moon. Until a change in the weather brought fog or cloud, ideally both, all they could do was fight back and hope they were not outnumbered or outgunned. Sometimes an explosion would shake them from so close that Charles almost forgot, in his stifled terror, to feel sick. Sometimes the sounds of their guns going off or the shouts and stamping boots of their crewmates would stop long enough to let them hear the piercing cry of someone wounded.

Signals came through constantly so there was no time to do anything but deal with them, and certainly none to talk. Talk was impossible in any case because Dizzy had his headphones on. These meant that when he swore, as he sometimes did when the ship was especially badly shaken, he did so at the top of his voice, which made Charles jump almost more than the explosions did. Occasionally, the speaker tube’s thin peeping sound would summon Charles, to receive instructions from the bridge, or be asked to make a report on the latest signals to come through.

Do these first lines intrigue you? It certainly sets the stage for something – obviously WWII – but with the poem before the first chapter, you realize that the writer of that poem is the person in the story. So, a soldier, who writes poetry. Not that this is unusual, but obviously, he must have done very well with his writing after the war, since we can see that he had a book of his collected poems published. By the way, I admit that I didn’t know who Charles Causley was, but I now know that he was quite well known in England, so this is a biographical, historical fiction novel.

All that said, this opening really does show us a whole lot, without telling us too much. That’s my kind of book!


Do you want to know what book this is from? If so, please scroll down to find out…

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Have you guessed that this is from “Mother’s Boy” by Patrick Gale? This novel was released in the UK recently, and I just got my copy (that I pre-ordered late last year) in the mail! Watch out for my upcoming review, because this one looks like its a winner already (which is nothing less than I would expect from Patrick Gale)!

Mother's Boy

5 thoughts on “TCL’s First Lines Friday #2 for March 11, 2022!

  1. I’m a big Patrick Gale fan, but in this case I feel a little bamboozled by all that information. I realise that’s rather the point, and because it’s Patrick Gale, I’ll definitely read on as soon as I can get a copy. Especially because I’m intrigued by those few Charles Causley lines – lines I hadn’t previously come across from this poet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read all his books, but although A Place Called Winter was about his grandfather, I think this is the first time he’s done biographical, historical fiction.


  2. It was clearly going to be a bad crossing. With Asiatic resignation, Father Rothchild S.J. put down his suitcase in the corner of the bar and went on deck. (it was a small suitcase of imitation crocodile hide. The initials stamped on it in Gothic characters were not Father Rothchild’s, for he had borrowed it that morning from the valet-de-chambre of his hotel. It contained some rudimentary underclothes, six important new books in six languages, a false beard, and a school atlas and gazetteer heavily annotated.) Standing on the deck Father Rothschild leant his elbow on the rail, rested his chin in his hands, and surveyed the procession of a passenger coming up the gangway, each face eloquent of polite misgiving.

    From: ‘Vile Bodies and Black Mischief’ 2 hilarious novels by Evelyn Waugh

    Liked by 1 person

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