Name that Novel

Can you match these books' first and last lines?

Name that Novel

They say that the Internet loves a list, but according to my Facebook feed, the Internet loves a quiz even more. (Personally, I’m addicted to Slate’s Friday News Quiz.) Bookworms especially love to prove how smart and well-read they are. Finally, the Independent is giving you a chance to show your erudition!

Pair the opening and closing lines of novels culled from my bookshelves. Then, match the lines with the title of the book. Only novels that are considered classics are included, and even if you have not read them all, you should be able to figure out which lines belong together through contextual and stylistic clues. And if there is a book listed here that you have not read yet, get to it!


1) The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest.

2) Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P----, in Kentucky.

3) Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

4) One evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reach one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper Wessex, on foot.

5) A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head.

6) Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.

7) Call me Ishmael.

8) Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.

9) Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures on conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’

10) 124 was spiteful.

11) I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly consider’d how much depended upon what they were then doing; — that not only the production of a rational Being was concern’d in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind; — and for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost: — Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly, — I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me.

12) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age if wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.


a) Taking the pigtail in one of his paws, he pressed it warmly to his wet moustache.

b) A COCK and a BULL, said Yorick — And one of the best of its kind, I ever heard.

c) The broken flower drooped over Ben’s fist and his eyes were empty and blue and serene again as cornice and façade flowed smoothly once more from left to right, post and tree, window and doorway and signboard each in its ordered place.

d) Beloved.

e) It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.

f) The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky — seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.

g) For there she was.

h) “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.”

i) Not by combining together, to protect injustice and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to be saved, — but by repentance, justice and mercy; for, not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!

j) 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.

k) I’ll go on getting angry at Ivan the coachman, I’ll go on arguing, go on expressing my ideas inappropriately, there will still be a wall between the inmost shrine of my soul and other people, including my wife; I’ll go on blaming her because of my own fears, then repent; I’ll go on not understanding with my reason why I pray, and go on praying — but from now on my life, my whole life, no matter what happens to me, every second of it, is not only not meaningless as it was before, but it has the incontestable meaning of the goodness I have the  power to put into it!

l) And in being forced to class herself among the fortunate she did not cease to wonder at the persistence of the unforeseen, when the one to whom such unbroken tranquility had been accorded in the adult stage was she whose youth had seemed to teach that happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain.


!           Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
@        Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
#         Beloved by Toni Morrison
$         A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
%        Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
^          The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
&         Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
*          Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
+         The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
=          A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
<          Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
?          Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe


1) f %   2) i ?   3) k @   4) l ^   5) a $   6) c +   7) e &   8) g *   9) j !   10) d #   11) b <   12) h =

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