The first lines of Madeleine Robins' three Sarah Tolerance books are as follows:

Point of Honour

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Fallen Woman of good family must, soon or late, descend to whoredom.

Petty Treason

It is one thing, and a quite considerable thing, to be a lady.

The Sleeping Partner

No one who had seen Miss Sarah Brereton as a child would have taken her for a heroine.

The first and third lines are obvious references to the first sentences of Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey respectively. The second one doesn't come from the first line of any other Austen book; is it a reference to something else? I've been googling fragments of it, but I haven't come up with anything plausible...

1 Answer 1


There's no particular reference in the second book. I tried to come up with a riff on an Austen opening line, but it didn't seem to work. So I made it up.

  • Good to know. Thanks!
    – Micah
    Dec 3, 2013 at 13:51
  • 2
    How do we know you're really the Madeleine Robins?
    – jwodder
    Dec 3, 2013 at 20:25
  • 1
    @jwodder - How do you know she's not?
    – Valorum
    Mar 30, 2016 at 13:56

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