Thirty Days of First Lines: Day 15

Sargent_Watercolor“Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

The opening of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, not a tracking shot from a helicopter, but a Sargent watercolor, seemingly slight, yet profound, and perfectly judged.

Anthony Lane sent it, and the book, a valentine in a NYKer piece in 2012. “So begins “The Portrait of a Lady,” and its opening chords, quiet as they are, have almost no match in English-speaking literature.”

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