One of the books I finished this week was Alan Furst's Midnight in Europe. The novel is set mainly in Paris in the years leading up to World War II, but it begins in New York. Here's the opening paragraph:
On a soft, winter evening in Manhattan, the fifteenth of December, 1937, it started to snow; big flakes spun lazily in the sky, danced in the lights of the office buildings, then melted as they hit the pavement. At Saks Fifth Avenue the window displays were lush and glittering -- tinsel, toy trains, sugary frost dusted on the glass -- and a crowd had gathered at the main entrance, drawn by a group of carolers dressed for a Dickens Christmas in long mufflers, top hats, and bonnets. Here then, for as long as it lasted, was a romantic New York, the New York in a song on the radio.Initial Thoughts: I liked it: This opening paints a really attractive picture, and stirs several very pleasant memories. As a kid growing up in the 1950s, I was always amazed and delighted by those wonderful Christmas windows the major department stores produced, with Santa and elves and model trains, and toys that seemed to come to life. (Just like the opening of "A Christmas Story," one of my favorite holiday movies.) And even though I really don't like snow, I do have some great, snowy memories of visiting Manhattan around Christmas or New Year's Eve -- it's a very busy, very vibrant season in the life of a city I love. So, I was sort of pulled in, right from the opening page. Of course, this is a novel about war and espionage, so we know the idyllic holiday scene definitely can't last. This was an enjoyable read, but not quite what I was expecting -- review to come soon (I hope).
Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc. It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.