ISBN: 0679729658 A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of A Tale of Two Cities, test your literary knowledge with our opening lines quiz. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” is, of course, the famous opening line to Charles Dickens' classic about the French Revolution. And who can forget the “Call Me Ishmael” beginning of Herman Melville’s maritime classic Moby Dick.  But can you remember the opening line from Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions? Take our quiz and push your literary knowledge to its limit.  We have printed the opening sentences from 20 books, see if you can guess the title of each one.



AbeBooks' Opening Lines Book Quiz

1. One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondu to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. 

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Testament by John Grisham

2. The play – for which Briony had designed the posters, programmes, and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of a folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collection box in red crepe paper – was written by her in a two –day tempest of composition, causing her to miss a breakfast and a lunch.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Wonder Boys by Michal Chabon

3. To the Red Country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Paradise by Toni Morrison
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
The Innocent Man by John Grisham

4. I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
1632 by Eric Flint
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

5. My suffering left me sad and gloomy.

The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

6. Once upon a Time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Animal Farm by George Orwell

7. A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Foundation by Isaac Asimov

8. Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

9. They shoot the white girl first.

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Paradise by Toni Morrison
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Native Son by Richard Wright

10. I came into aviation the hard way.

Going Solo by Roald Dahl
Airframe by Michael Crichton
Round the Bend by Nevil Shute
Airman by Eoin Colfer

11. “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

12. Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of that man skilled in all ways contending, the wanderer, harried for years on end after he plundered the stronghold on the proud height of Troy.

The Odyssey by Homer
The Aeneid by Virgil
The Iliad by Homer
Olympos by Dan Simmons

13. My godmother lived in a handsome house in the clean and ancient town of Bretton.

Villette by Charlotte Brontë
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

14. The year 1866 was signalised by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and puzzling phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten.

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne

15. For want of a nail the kingdom was lost – that’s how the catechism goes when you boil it down.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini
The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

16. I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer

17. The strange thing was, he said, how they screamed every night at midnight.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Night Shift by Stephen King

18. My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married and where I was born.

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

19. When he lies down to sleep, this landscape is always on his mind: A pine forest covers the hills, as far as the fur on a bear's back.

The Hammer of Eden by Ken Follett
The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

20. He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle
Guerrillas by V.S. Naipaul
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene


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