It was a dark and stormy night.

NaBloPoMo day 7: Post the opening sentence of your favorite book. How long has this book been in your life?

No, I’m not going with the opening words to the novel Snoopy is forever attempting to write (which Schultz and so many writers have cribbed over the years and even launched a competition named for the originator of the phrase).

The image I always think of when someone says "first line of a novel"

The image I always think of when someone says “first line of a novel”

This actually is the opening of my favorite novel…

Even in high summer, Tintagel was a haunted place; Igraine, Lady of Duke Gorlois, looked out over the sea from the headland.

I’ve can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  The first would have been sometime in high school. There were at least two runs through it in college. I pick it up every few years,  though I think it’s been since before seminary the last time.

I had fallen in love with the Arthurian legends well before reading Mists.  I adored Once and Future King.  I remember going to a book store or library, seeing the cover and being intrigued. Once I understood that this was a woman writing about the women in the stories, the book was definitely coming home with me.

I loved the magic and intrigue. I loved that I could see these people and even imagine myself in this strange world precisely because Zimmer Bradley crafted a world from nothing. There are a handful of writers who can immediately and consistently connect with my imagination that way – Neil Gaiman, Colleen McCullough, Edward Rutherford, and of course Roald Dahl.

But Mists of Avalon captured my imagination as a young woman on the cusp of independence. I was on my way to leaving my parent’s house and establishing an identity beyond someone’s daughter or sister. And these women… they were complicated and strong and grasping and every bit as human as their male counterparts. In this novel or any other.

Every time I read it, I’m a bit older and bring a new set of experiences to the table.  That this makes my experience of the characters and plot richer tells me that my teen-aged self had a pretty good handle on what makes for an excellent novel.

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