Don’t judge a book by its cover - instead, try and wait for the last line.
Following our massively popular and lovingly selected list of the 100 best opening lines from books, it’s now time for the closing lines to shine. Because, whilst the beginning of a book may get all the glory, it’s the ending that really stays with you. A vague last line casts a shadow over the entire novel, whereas a powerful and poignant one will keep you wondering for weeks to come.
From classics such as George Orwell’s Animal Farm to L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Jung Chang’s Wild Swans, we’ve scoured the Stylist book shelf for the best closing lines (or, in some cases to give context, the best final few lines) ever written.
If you don’t want to know the final thought of a book you’re yet to read, look away now…
The Great Gatsby
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
The Great Gatsby, F.Scott Fitzgerald
Gone with the Wind
"After all, tomorrow is another day."
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
To Kill a Mockingbird
"He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning."
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Bell Jar
"The eyes and faces all turned themselves towards me, and guiding myself by them, as by a magical thread, I stepped into the room."
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
Animal Farm, George Orwell
Life of Pi
"Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger."
Life of Pi, Yann Martel
The House At Pooh Corner
"But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."
The House At Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne
The Time Traveler's Wife
"He is coming, and I am here."
The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
The Old Man and the Sea
"The old man was dreaming about the lions."
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
Memoirs of a Geisha
"Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper."
Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
Pride and Prejudice
"With the Gardiners, they were always on the most intimate terms. Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them."
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
P.S. I Love You
"In the meantime, she would just live."
P.S. I Love You, Cecelia Ahern
"He loved Big Brother."
1984, George Orwell
"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."
Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
The Catcher in the Rye
"It's funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
"For Siddalee Walker, the need to understand has passed, at least for the moment. All that was left was love and wonder."
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Rebecca Wells
A Clockwork Orange
"And so farewell from your little droog. And to all others in this story profound shooms of lip-music brrrrr. And they can kiss my sharries. But you, O my brothers, remember sometimes thy little Alex that was. Amen. And all that cal."
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
A Tale of Two Cities
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
"Later on he will understand how some men so loved her, that they did dare much for her sake."
Dracula, Bram Stoker
Where the Wild Things Are
"Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him—and it was still hot."
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
The End of the Affair
"I wrote at the start that this was a record of hate, and walking there beside Henry towards the evening glass of beer, I found the one prayer that seemed to serve the winter mood: O God, You've done enough, You've robbed me of enough, I'm too tired and old to learn to love, leave me alone forever."
The End of the Affair, Graham Greene
The Color Purple
"But I don't think us feel old at all. And us so happy. Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt."
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
"Up out of the lampshade, startled by the overhead light, flew a large nocturnal butterfly that began circling the room. The strains of the piano and violin rose up weakly from below."
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
"As I left China farther and farther behind, I looked out of the window and saw a great universe beyond the plane's silver wing. I took one more glance over my past life, then turned to the future. I was eager to embrace the world."
Wild Swans, Jung Chang
Origin of Species
"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."
Origin of Species, Charles Darwin
"There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can't fix it, you've got to stand it."
Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx
The Makioka Sisters
"Yukiko's diarrhoea persisted through the twenty-sixth, and was a problem on the train to Tokyo."
The Makioka Sisters, Junichiro Tanizaki
Crime and Punishment
"But that is the beginning of a new story - the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended."
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Like Water for Chocolate
"How wonderful the flavor, the aroma of her kitchen, her stories as she prepared the meal, her Christmas Rolls! I don't know why mine never turn out like hers, or why my tears flow so freely when I prepare them - perhaps I am as sensitive to onions as Tita, my great-aunt, who will go on living as long as there is someone who cooks her recipes."
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
"Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this."
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
"We sat there for a long time, till the crowd around us thinned, till the sun shifted and the light changed. Till we felt our eyes could meet again, without the tears."
Sarah's Key, Tatiana de Rosnay
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
"'From the Land of Oz,' said Dorothy gravely. 'And here is Toto, too. And oh, Aunt Em! I'm so glad to be at home again!'"
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
The Book Thief
"A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR. I am haunted by humans."
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
"There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air."
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
"I'm fine. I have bad dreams but I never saw Mister Duck again. I play video games. I smoke a little dope. I got my thousand-yard stare. I carry a lot of scars. I like the way that sounds. I carry a lot of scars."
The Beach, Alex Garland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
"The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well."
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
"He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance."
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
"He reached the top of the bank in a single, powerful leap. Hazel followed; and together they slipped away, running easily down through the wood, where the first primroses were beginning to bloom."
Watership Down, Richard Adams
"And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea."
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
The Handmaid's Tale
"Are there any questions?"
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
"It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan."
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
The Kite Runner
"I ran with the wind blowing in my face, and a smile as wide as the valley of Panjsher on my lips. I ran."
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
"For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration."
The Stranger, Albert Camus
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
"She opened the door wide and let him into her life again."
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson
Of Mice and Men
"Curley and Carlson looked after them. And Carlson said, 'Now what the hell ya suppose is eatin' them two guys?'"
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Never Let Me Go
"I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be."
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
"My husband remained there some time after me to settle our affairs, and at first I had intended to go back to him, but at his desire I altered that resolution, and he is come over to England also, where we resolve to spend the remainder of our years in sincere penitence for the wicked lives we have lived."
Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe
The Devil Wears Prada
"And then, while the pretty brunette girl finished singing her verse, he buzzed me through like I was someone who mattered."
The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger
The Green Mile
"We each owe a death, there are no exceptions, I know that, but sometimes, oh God, the Green Mile is so long."
The Green Mile, Stephen King
The Age of Innocence
"At that, as if it had been the signal he waited for, Newland Archer got up slowly and walked back alone to his hotel."
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
The Cellist of Sarajevo
"Her lips move and a moment before the door splinters off its hinges she says, her voice strong and quiet, 'My name is Alisa.'"
The Cellist of Sarajevo, Steven Galloway
"I lost track after a while, happy to be home, weeping for my father, and thinking about what was next."
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
"The men began singing, a grave, slow song that drifted away into the night. Soon the road was empty. All that remained of the German regiment was a little cloud of dust."
Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali
"Valcourt is at peace with himself."
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, Gil Courtemanche
The Fiery Cross
"'When the day shall come, that we do part,' he said softly, and turned to look at me, 'if my last words are not ‘I love you’ – ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.'"
The Fiery Cross, Diana Gabaldon
"She closes her eyes again and I begin to sing softly:
'''V'la l'bon vent, v'la l'joli vent
V'la l'bon vent, ma mie m'appelle.'''
Hoping that this time it will remain a lullaby. That this time the wind will not hear. That this time - please just this once - it will leave without us."
Chocolat, Joanne Harris
"The knife came down, missing him by inches, and he took off."
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
"I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth."
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
The Hand That First Held Mine
"His body stirs beneath the sheets. He twists his head from one side to the other. His eyes, she sees, are open. Then she feels a pressure on her hand and he speaks his first words for a week. 'Keep going, El,' he says, 'Keep going.' And so she does."
The Hand That First Held Mine, Maggie O'Farrell
The Long Goodbye
''I never saw any of them again — except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them."
The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
Winter in Madrid
"She watched as Sandy Forsyth walked across the talmac towards them, smiling like an eager curious schoolboy as he lifted his face to the sunny English afternoon."
Winter in Madrid, C. J. Sansom
"I went on my way. A stormy wind rattled the scrap-iron in the ruins, whistling and howling through the charred cavities of the windows. Twilight came on. Snow fell from the darkening, leaden sky."
The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945, Wladyslaw Szpilman
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
"This is not a full circle. It's Life carrying on. It's the next breath we all take. It's the choice we make to get on with it."
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, Alexandra Fuller
"Yes, they will trample me underfoot, the numbers marching one two three, four hundred million five hundred six, reducing me to specks of voiceless dust, just as, in all good time, they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his, and his who will not be his, until the thousand and first generation, until a thousand and one midnights have bestowed their terrible gifts and a thousand and one children have died, because it is the privilege and the curse of midnight’s children to be both masters and victims of their times, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace."
Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
A Hundred and One Days
"The white floodlight shines through the wispy tule and makes thin shadows. A sudden breeze over the Tigris forms a tiny whirlwind. It floats through the balcony doors and makes the curtains dance."
A Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal, Asne Seierstad
Cider With Rosie
"It was then that I began to sit on my bed and stare out at the nibbling squirrels, and to make up powems from intense abstraction, hour after unmarked hour, imagination scarcely faltering once, rhythm hardly skipping a beat, while sisters called me, suns rose and fell, and the poems I made, which I never remembered, were the first and last of that time…"
Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee
"And presently, like a circling typhoon, the sounds of battle began to return."
Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh
The House Of The Spirits
"It begins like this: Barrabás came to us by sea…"
The House Of The Spirits, Isabel Allende
"He now has more patients than the devil himself could handle; the authorities treat him with deference and public opinion supports him. He has just been awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor."
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
A Thousand Splendid Suns
"But the naming game involves only male names, because if it's a girl, Laila has already named her."
A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
A Moveable Feast
"But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy."
A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
Lord of the Flies
"He turned away to give them time to pull themselves together; and waited, allowing his eyes to rest on the trim cruiser in the distance."
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
"And then we continued blissfully into this small but perfect piece of our forever."
Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer
The Grapes of Wrath
"She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously."
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
The Kitchen God's Wife
"Of course, it's only superstition, just for fun. But see how fast the smoke rises--oh, even faster when we laugh, lifting our hopes, higher and higher."
The Kitchen God's Wife, Amy Tan
"And here she is, herself, Clarissa, not Mrs. Dalloway anymore; there is no one now to call her that. Here she is with another hour before her. 'Come in, Mrs. Brown,' she says. 'Everything's ready.'"
The Hours, Michael Cunningham
The Sound and the Fury
"The broken flower drooped over Ben's fist and his eyes were empty and blue and serene again as cornice and facade flowed smoothly once more from left to right, post and tree, window and doorway and signboard each in its ordered place."
The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
The Good Earth
"'Rest assured, our father, rest assured. The land is not to be sold.' But over the old man's head they looked at each other and smiled."
The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
"This stone is entirely blank. The only thought in cutting it was of the essentials of the grave, and there was no other care than to make this stone long enough and narrow enough to cover a man. No name can be read there."
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
Brave New World
"Slowly, very slowly, like two unhurried compass needles, the feet turned towards the right; north, north-east, south-east, south, south-south-west; then paused, and, after a few seconds, turned as unhurriedly back towards the left. South-south-west, south, south-east, east ... "
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
"I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before."
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
"But now I must sleep."
Atonement, Ian McEwan
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
"Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days."
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
"When they finally did dare it, at first with stolen glances then candid ones, they had to smile. They were uncommonly proud. For the first time they had done something out of Love."
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Patrick Süskind
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
"Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead."
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
Bridget Jones’s Diary
"An excellent year's progress."
Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
Anne of Green Gables
"'God's in his heaven, all’s right with the world,' whispered Anne softly."
Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
Man and Wife
"And so we stayed out in the garden of the old house until we couldn’t see to kick a ball, laughing in the gathering twilight, my mother and son, my wife and our daughter, making the most of the good weather and all the days that were left, our little game watched only by next door’s cat, and every star in the heavens."
Man and Wife, Tony Parsons
"Again and again I called out for Midori from the dead centre of this place that was no place."
Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
"But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union."
Emma, Jane Austen
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"One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, 'Poo-tee-weet?'"
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
"Archie, for one, watched the mouse. He watched it stand very still for a second with a smug look as if it exepcted nothing less. He watched it scurry away, over his hand. He watched it dash along the table and through the hands of those who wished to pin it down. He watched it leap off the end and disappear through an air vent. Go on my son! thought Archie."
White Teeth, Zadie Smith
The Hound of the Baskervilles
"Might I trouble you then to be ready in half an hour, and we can stop at Marcini’s for a little dinner on the way?"
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Any Human Heart
"My personal rollercoaster. Not so much a rollercoaster - a rollercoaster's too smooth - a yo-yo rather - a jerking, spinning toy in the hands of a maladroit child, more like, trying too hard, too impatiently eager to learn how to operate his new yo-yo."
Any Human Heart, William Boyd
The Lovely Bones
"I wish you all a long and happy life."
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
Heart of Darkness
"The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the utmost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky — seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness."
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
"He didn't think about it, he went straight to a seat facing forwards, so that he could see where he was going."
The Outcast, Sadie Jones
Alone in Berlin
"Because it is written that you reap what you sow, and the boy had sown good corn."
Alone in Berlin, Hans Fallada
Half of a Yellow Sun
"She had started to cry softly. Odenigbo took her in his arms."
Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Before I Die
"Light falls through the window, falls onto me, into me. Moments. All gathering towards this one."
Before I Die, Jenny Downham