Image of 2 young people reading by a cornsheaf by Kate Greenaway

Image By Kate Greenaway (1846–1901) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In honour of Valentine’s Day I thought it would be fun to share some extracts of first meetings from my novels, thinking of the words of Dostoyevsky –  “We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.”

In each instance are you able to tell how it will end? Love and marriage? Unrequited love? Unhappy marriage? Friendship? Enmity? Disillusionment? Tragedy? I’ve removed the names of the characters except where essential for sense.
​In no particular order:

1. “It was the first time I had shaken an Indian’s hand. His grip was firm and his skin was smooth. He looked at me with a curiosity I thought was brazen. I wasn’t used to Indians looking me in the eye. They were more deferential. I’m not saying they should have been. Just that’s how they were. He was certainly not deferential. Not even close.” (from Kurinji Flowers)

2. “Although little more than a boy, about sixteen or seventeen, he was tall and quite broad around the chest. His hands looked as though they had already seen a lifetime of labour. Bright white teeth and shaggy blonde hair contrasted with the warm tan of his skin. He wore a checked shirt and dirt-encrusted overalls.” (from A Greater World)

3.”A young woman was standing in the shadows, partly hidden by the coat stand, her voluminous skirts giving her presence away. He stepped forward, then hesitated. Was it polite to offer to shake a young lady’s hand? She moved into the light of the gas lamp. Her dark hair was lustrous but with a small streak of premature grey at the temples. Her features were strong and pale as if sculpted from marble.” (from Letters from a Patchwork Quilt)

4. “He was tall and loose- limbed, with an effortless elegance, like a panther. His hair was greying at the temples and his face had deep wrinkles like a rhinoceros. There was nothing about him that fitted my mental picture of an artist. He was certainly not the type who went out and about in paint-smeared overalls and starved in a garret. Every inch of him, from his cavalry twills to his silk cravat, spoke privilege and entitlement.” (from Kurinji Flowers)

5. “His thick hair was weighted down with seawater and rain and he kept brushing it back nervously. The steward arrived with a towel and the man jumped to his feet and moved away to dry his hair, embarrassed at doing this in front of the two women. She took advantage of the moment to look at him. He was tall, lean, but strongly built, as though accustomed to physical labour. His clothes were of cheap cloth, poorly cut, but he had a natural elegance that needed no help from a tailor. ” (from A Greater World)

Image of Statue of Zeus by By Luigi Rosa

By Luigi Rosa (Flickr: Zeus -Museo di Iraklio / Heraklion museum) via Wikimedia Commons

6. “He smiled at her with a big beaming grin, then removed his spectacles and carefully polished them with a small cloth to remove the sea spray that had clouded them. The wind blew his hair, overlong and in need of a barber’s attention, up on either side of his face, giving him the aspect of Zeus or Poseidon.” ​(Letters from a Patchwork Quilt)

7. “He spoke in a voice that sounded as though it had been dried hoarse by the Australian sun. His face was like tanned leather and covered in fine wrinkles, testament to an outdoor life. He held his hat in his hands, exposing a head covered with cropped, steel-grey hair. His legs were slightly bowed, as though he spent more time in the saddle than on his feet.”
(from A Greater World)

8. “The man who stepped out from behind the screen caused her heart to skip a beat. He was somewhere between her own age and about thirty: tall, with long legs encased in riding breeches and leather boots. His blue eyes fixed upon her.” (The Green Ribbons – to be published spring 2016)

9. “He was probably the best-looking man I’d ever seen. He struck me as an outdoorsy type, with a tall, muscular build, blonde hair, tanned skin and the bluest of eyes. He had lots of finely drawn, white lines where he must have habitually screwed his eyes up against the sun. When he sat down beside me, I felt very small. He was unlike the pallid young men I was used to, with their drawling, bored voices, their brilliantined hair and their pre-planned conversational gambits.” (Kurinji Flowers

10. ​”He looked at the woman, her skirt tucked under her and the wind blowing her dark hair out of the loose bun she’d tied on top of her head. There was something about her that reminded him a little of Eliza and he felt that familiar stab of pain at her memory. It wasn’t that she looked like her – this woman was not pretty like Eliza and was as dark as Eliza was fair, but there was something in her manner, the way she spoke or held her head – he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Rather than walk on, he hesitated a moment, trying to place what it was exactly that stirred the memory.”
(Letters from a Patchwork Quilt)


Image of The Annunciation Barthélemy d'Eyck

The Annunciation Barthélemy d’Eyck (fl. 1444-1469) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

11. A young woman, about his own age, entered the room. She was small, slightly built, with light brown hair and enormous brown eyes. As she stood in the doorway with the afternoon sunshine behind her, he was reminded of a vision of the Virgin Mary, bathed in light.” (Letters from a Patchwork Quilt)

12. “He had a shock of thick reddish-blond hair and a friendly countenance, notable mainly for its rash of freckles. Perhaps she had met him before as he had been Papa’s student – but if she had it was not surprising she didn’t remember, as, freckles aside, his face was nondescript. Pleasant enough but unremarkable.” (The Green Ribbons – to be published spring 2016)

How evident is it whether or not love will bloom in these examples? Please let me know what you think!

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