In what ways does the opening of a novel relate to the narrative that unfolds from it? What are the different approaches to close reading a page of prose fiction? How does reading a text for a second time affect our understanding of the significance of its opening? In this unique book, Peter Childs discusses the opening lines of 24 widely-studied literary texts from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. These analyses amount to both an overview of modes of fiction over the last 300 years and also a guide to techniques of close reading. The extracts are taken from the work of novelists ranging from Jane Austen to Salman Rushdie. This stimulating and illuminating book will be a useful text for undergraduates studying the novel and involved in critical appreciation and close textual analysis. Texts discussed: Robinson Crusoe, Tristram Shandy, Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Silas Marner, Tess of the D'urbervilles, The Turn of the Screw, Heart of Darkness, The Good Soldier, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Life and Death of Harriet Frean, A Passage to India, Mrs Dalloway, Brave New World, The Road to Wigan Pier, Goodbye to Berlin, Under the Volcano, Wide Sargasso Sea, The Bloody Chamber, Shame, and The Buddha of Suburbia.