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As I have done for the past seven Thanksgiving weekends, I hereby present the “first lines” challenge, stolen from James over at Following Pulitzer.

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.

The most important rule of this game is to rely on your own memory and brain and not to cheat by using Google or another resource, print or online. This includes looking up my recent reading at Goodreads.

I’ll say it again, DO NOT use any other resources other than your own brain and/or the brains of those around you.

So, what’s the game, you say?

Below I’ve posted a list of first lines from books I’ve read (or am reading) this year—your job is to guess the author and title of the work I’ve quoted from.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

—The opening of Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen

Some truths:
• Some of these should be quite easy; others are fairly difficult.
• I’ve used discretion as to what counts as the first line.
• The line may be in translation, my own or another’s work.
• The authors or books are generally well known, have won or been nominated for prizes, have been adapted for the silver screen, or have been otherwise much discussed recently.
• The selections can be from any time period or genre, fiction or non-fiction—what ties them together is that I have read (or am reading) them this year.

If you own a copy of the work, it’s fine to check it before you post it as a guess. Any other reference work or tool, print or online, is strictly forbidden. If it’s driving you crazy and you end up googling the answers, that is certainly understandable, but don’t share your findings with the rest of us, that is unforgivable!

Anybody is welcome to comment and guess and I encourage you to do so since even an incorrect guess may trigger something in someone else’s memory. I may also offer hints in my responses so be sure to subscribe to the comments. Whatever is not guessed outright or crowd-sourced through the comments will be posted on Monday, November 30.

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

—The opening of Anna Karenina (1877) by Leo Tolstoy

1. It was about the beginning of September, 1664, that I, among the rest of my neighbours, heard, in ordinary discourse, that the plague was returned again in Holland; for it had been very violent there, and particularly at Amsterdam and Rotterdam, in the year 1663, whither, they say, it was brought, some said from Italy, others from the Levant, among some goods, which were brought home by their Turkey fleet; others said it was brought from Candia; others from Cyprus.
[ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments. Please feel free to add there whether you knew it or not.]

2. Travellers crossing the wheat-yellow plains to Dungatar would first notice a dark blot shimmering at the edge of the flatness.
[Hint: Like #4, this was adapted into one of my favorite wryly comic films, starring an English actress named Kate.]
[ETA: This title has been guessed correctly in the comments. Please feel free to add there whether you knew it or not.]

3. The coach from Ellsworth to Butcher’s Crossing was a dougherty that had been converted to carry passengers and small freight.
[Hint: Along with #5, the most obscure title and author on here, but if you have read it, there is no way you wouldn’t get at least the title.]
[ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments. Please feel free to add there whether you knew it or not.]

4. The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged; and when they died within a few weeks of one another during the annual epidemic of the influenza or Spanish Plague which occurred in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living.
[ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments. Please feel free to add there whether you knew it or not.]

5. A man with small eyes and a ginger moustache came and spoke to me when I was thinking of something else.
[Hint: Along with #3, the most obscure title and author on here. Even if you’ve read it, this line may not trigger anything since the man in question disappears from the novel until the very end, one of the most incredible endings to a book that I have ever read, so incredible in fact that one of the people on the podcast that recommended this book didn’t even realize he was there.]

6. “Linnet Ridgeway!”
[ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments. Please feel free to add there whether you knew it or not.]

7. Charles Monet was a loner.
[Hint: A date is given just above this first line: 1980 New Years Day. If you’ve noticed a theme in some of my selections, this one is part of it.]

8. I am writing this at the behest of my advocate, Mr Andrew Sinclair, who since my incarceration here in Inverness has treated me with a degree of civility I in no way deserve.
[Hint: Though the opening has a whiff of a classic, this is a recent book.]

9. Our house is old, and noisy, and full.
[Hint: #9 and #10 are by the same author.]

10. The weather falls more gently on some places than on others, the world looks down more paternally on some people.
[Hint: #9 and #10 are by the same author.]

11. London, the crouching monster, like every other monster has to breathe, and breathe it does in its own obscure, malignant way.
[Hint: Almost as obscure as #3 and #5, sorry! I just couldn’t not include this fantastic opener. I took out two books by this author from the library; the other one was for #Noirvember, but I couldn’t get into it and it ended up on the DNF pile.]

12. By the time Edwin Rist stepped off the train onto the platform at Tring, forty miles north of London, it was already quite late.
[Hint: This work of non-fiction is way more riveting than you might think based on the title.]

Baker’s Dozen Holiday Bonus: In the time before steamships, or then more frequently than now, a stroller along the docks of any considerable seaport would occasionally have his attention arrested by a group of bronzed mariners, man-of-war’s men or merchant sailors in holiday attire, ashore on liberty.
[Hint: I first picked this up because I was seeing the opera.]
[ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments. Please feel free to add there whether you knew it or not, before or after seeing the hint.]

Double-Secret-Probation Bonus Round: The one opened the door with a latch-key and went in, followed by a young fellow who awkwardly removed his cap. He wore rough clothes that smacked of the sea, and he was manifestly out of place in the spacious hall in which he found himself.
[Hint: Like #6, this was adapted into a movie this year, and not for the first time, but unlike #6, I doubt you have seen it. However, the book itself shows up in a Nabokov novel, a Sergio Leone film, and a French television series.]
[ETA: This book has been guessed correctly in the comments. Please feel free to add there whether you knew it or not.]

Please post any guesses below, not on Twitter. That way, everyone will be contributing to the challenge in the same place. If you want time to think and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read the comments below and remember to check back on November 30 for a new post with the answers.

For the seven previous annual challenges, click here.

Good luck!