Bud, at Chekhov's Mistress, brings my attention to the fact that "a lot of people are talking about “great first sentences” of novels." Ed started this (linking to 100 Best First Sentences) and Jenny Davidson has also contributed to the meme. For my money, you can't get much better than the opening line of Anita Brookner's first novel A Start in Life (1981) (re-titled The Debut in the States):

Dr. Weiss, at 40, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.

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