Exceptional First Sentences: The Thirty-Nine Steps

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“I returned from the City about three o’clock on that May afternoon pretty well disgusted with life. I had been three months in the Old Country, and was fed up with it. If anyone had told me a year ago that I would have been feeling like that I should have laughed at him; but there was the fact. The weather made me liverish, the talk of the ordinary Englishman made me sick. I couldn’t get enough exercise, and the amusements of London seemed as flat as soda-water that has been standing in the sun. ‘Richard Hannay,’ I kept telling myself, ‘you have got into the wrong ditch, my friend, and you had better climb out.’”

***

I know I’ve noted before that things have been a wee bit quiet around here as of late–this is due to busy, busy, busy. I’ve been running around here, there, and everywhere and it seems as if this will continue for the next several months over the spread of many countries. I’m dead-tired today and can’t help but think of John Buchan’s man on the run, Richard Hannay.

I love The Thirty-Nine Steps and have seen many adaptations (my favorite has to be the stage play which I’ve seen twice). I have so many books lined up for this summer, but I can’t help but imagine running through Scotland on an adventure (minus murder, spies, and anarchist plots).

***

This book is available for free in the public domain.

8 comments

    1. I hope you like it. Admittedly, it has been a few years since I read it, but I often come back to it in one way or another, usually via a film adaptation and it’s short page count teases me into considering a re-read.

  1. Wow. What a great first paragraph!!! I’m only familiar with the Hitchcock film version of The 39 Steps. Never even considered reading the novel, but you’ve planted a seed there, my friend. Definitely need to check this one out. Thx.

    1. My pleasure. It’s super quick to read, also. You will see that the movie is different than the book, but I still enjoy many of the adaptations (even the recent BBC TV movie that was far from perfect–it was nice to look at, at least).

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