Friday 19 September 2008


You're looking brainy, may I say, so perhaps you'd like a little quiz for the weekend? I made it for the literary week, but wasn't used, so tonight Our Vicar and The Carbon Copy teamed up against Our Vicar's Wife (we decided those were more or less fair teams) to have a go at the following quiz... enjoy! (Do read the instructions first... none of them did, and it led to complications...!)

These are the opening lines of novels or plays whose titles feature a woman’s name. The dates signify date of publication. Where XXXX appears in the opening line, it indicates part or all of the name in question.

What are the titles and who are the authors?

1. (1623)
Nay, but this dotage of our general’s
O’erflows the measure; those his goodly eyes,
That o’er the files and musters of the war
Have glow’d like plated Mars, now bend, now turn
The office and devotion of their view
Upon a tawny front

2. (1740) I Have great Trouble, and some Comfort, to acquaint you with. The Trouble is, that my good Lady died of the Illness I mention’d to you, and left us all much griev’d for her Loss; for she was a dear good Lady, and kind to all us her Servants.

3. (1815) XXXX, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

4. (1847) There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

5. (1849) Of late years, an abundant shower of curates has fallen upon the north of England: they lie very thick on the hills; every parish has one or more of them; they are young enough to be very active, and ought to be doing a great deal of good.

6. (1891) On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore or Blackmoor.

7. (1892) PARKER: Is your ladyship at home this afternoon?

XXXX: Yes – who has called?

PARKER: Lord Darlington, my lady.

8. (1925) XXXX said she would buy the flowers herself.

9. (1928) Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes.

10. (1934) If you want to find Cherry Tree Lane all you have to do is ask the Policeman at the cross-roads.

11. (1938) Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

12. (1952) Hercule Poirot came out of the Vieille Grand’mere restaurant into Soho. He turned up the collar of his overcoat through prudence, rather than necessity, since the night was not cold.

13. (1959) XXXX, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.

14. (1959) I was set down from the carrier’s cart at the age of three; and there with a sense of bewilderment and terror my life in the village began.

15. (1961) The boys, as they talked to the girls from Marcia Blaine School, stood on the far side of their bicycles holding the handlebars, which established a protective fence of bicycle between the sexes, and the impression that at any moment the boys were likely to be away.

16. (1962) Set in darkness. Crash against front door. MARTHA’s laughter heard. Front door opens, lights are switched on. MARTHA enters, followed by GEORGE.

17. (1996) My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married and where I was born. Instead, they returned to Ireland.

18. (1996) Noon. London: my flat. Ugh.

19. (1998) Peter Gregory kicked the door of the dispersal hut closed behind him with the heel of his boot.

20. (2004) Each of us has a private XXXX. Jocelyn’s XXXX wrote wonderful novels about love and courtship, but never married.

21. (2006) Let us begin with two girls at a dance


  1. 3. Emma by Jane Austen
    4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
    6. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (is that it? I feel so proud I recognized Hardy's writing style almost instantly)
    8. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
    11. Rebecca by Daphné du Maurier
    13. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
    18. Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
    20. The Jane Austen book club by Karen Joy Fowler

    I'd be very interested to know what the others are, some first lines are quite catchy !

  2. 1. Antony and Cleopatra WS
    2. Pamela S Richardson
    3. Emma, JA
    4. Jane Eyre, C Bronte
    6. Tess, Hardy
    7. Lady Windermere's Fan, Wilde????
    8. Mrs Dalloway, Woolf
    11. Rebecca, D Du Maurier
    13, Lolita, Nabokov
    14. Cider with Rosie, Laure Lee?????
    I did these without reading Sibylle's, by the way. I'm rather ashamed not to have known more of them. The ones with ???s are guesses.

  3. Is number 5 Shirley by Charlotte Bronte? Got quite a few others named above too. Good fun! Can't wait to see what the others were.

  4. 3. Emma - Jane Austen
    7. Lady Windermere's Fan - Oscar Wilde
    8. Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
    10. Mary Poppins - P.L. Travers
    11. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
    12. Mrs McGinty's Dead (?) - Agatha Christie
    15. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
    16. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf - Edward Albee

  5. How irresistible! Only posting what others haven't done, and no cheating!

    10. Mary Poppins, P L Travers
    15. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
    16. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee
    17. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt. This is a guess as I haven't read it.

  6. PS I see Lethe posted while I was writing my list! Spooky.

  7. Ha, what a coincidence! :)

    Very curious to know what #5 is, sounds quite fun.

  8. 3. Emma
    4. Jane Eyre
    5. Shirley
    8. Mrs Dalloway
    9. Lady Chatterley
    10. one of the Mary Poppins books
    11. Rebecca
    15. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
    16 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
    Not a good showing from me either - And me a bookseller!

  9. 3. Emma
    4. Jane Eyre
    8. Mrs. Dalloway
    10. Mary Poppins
    11. Rebecca
    13. Lolita
    15. Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
    16. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

    Not too good. I want to read the books attached to 5 and 7! Though if 5 is Shirley, as Justaboox says, I *have* read it and don't know why I don't remember such a memorable opening. 7 does sound Wildeian. Great fun, Simon!

  10. I think we have them all except #19 !

  11. 3. Emma - Jane Austen
    8. Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
    9. Lady Chatterly's Lover - D.H. Laurence
    11. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
    15. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark

    I think we're still missing 20 and 21 ....

  12. 19: "Peter Gregory kicked the door of the dispersal hut ..." is from Charlotte Gray by Faulkes

    21: "Let us begin with two girls at a dance" is from The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by O'Farrell

    Dark Puss

  13. Pamela, Emma, Jane, Tess, Rebecca, Lolita, Rosie, Jean

    Looks like I need to do some more up-to-date reading


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