In each case the name of the book and author are required, but in some cases there are bonus marks available too. Answers by midnight London time on 3 January, please.
The first section covers books which have some connection with ships or boats:
1. The 1951 film Captain Horatio Hornblower was an adaptation of not one but three books. Can you name them, the author, and the actor who played Hornblower?
2. An unpopular officer is persuaded by another to fake a duodenal ulcer in order to escape from sea-going duty. Bonus marks for the names of the two characters involved.
3. Edmund Talbot lays a cunning plan to be alone with the woman of his desires, a plan involving an old naval tradition. For a bonus mark, what is it?
4. One of the central characters is put in the pillory in the City of London after innocently but unwisely getting involved in a stock market scam, and then goes to sea in a privateer. For a bonus mark, who is the owner of the privateer?
5. Billy lives in dread of a visit from a one-legged man. When he dies in mysterious circumstances following a visit from a former shipmate, what the young hero finds in Billy's sea chest sparks a rollicking yarn.
Now how about some opening lines?
6. I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.
7. There was absolutely no possibility of taking a walk that day.
8. "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled X, lying on the rug.
9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...
10. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs ...
Test your knowledge of author's lives. Only the name required here.
11. This writer lived in India but later in Rye, and was the subject of a poisoning attempt. Various books were made into films, including a very famous one starring Deborah Kerr.
12. This writer won the Booker Prize and later ran BBC Radio. Most of his books are currently out of print!
13. Born in America, this writer came to live in England at the age of 2, subsequently returning to America. Originally a poet, he was to gain fame with a number of hard-boiled detective novels. His style is highly individual and has been much admired, copied and parodied.
14. This writer's early experiences as a rent collector and solicitor's clerk would prove hugely influential in the novels he wrote depicting a particular part of England. He lived for some years in Paris, where he was friendly with a young Somerset Maugham.
15. Having attended Eton, which he described as "excellent preparation for vice of any kind", he had a bewildering array of casual jobs, including a lingerie salesman, international art smuggler, and vineyard labourer. In later life he would write a series of hugely under-rated crime novels, all of them very bleak, sometime known collectively as the Factory series. He has been described as the creator of English noir. He wrote under at least two different names, either of which will be accepted.
Finally, a few generalist questions. Again, the name of the book and the author are required.
16. Subtitled An Island Tale, this book tells the story of a man who falls in love with a traveling lady musician. Remarkable for having been written by someone who became a major novelist in their third language.
17. A Booker prize-winner, this rambling but magnificent novel tells the story of an admitted fantasist, and is said to tell the history of the country in question in parallel with that of the central character. The writer would later win the Booker again.
18. The words "you have been in Afghanistan, I perceive" launch a famous partnership on the reading public.
19. This prize-winning novel describes the sad marriage of a police office in Africa. Written by an author who spent a lot of time in Capri.
20. The central character, who is described but not named in the title, achieves success in life, but is hiding a dark secret concerning a drunken episode at a country fair many years previously. When he later dies, disgraced and impoverished, his secret having been revealed, he asks that no sexton toll the bell for his passing.
Results and answers will be announced as soon as possible after 3 January.
 The Price of Salt (Carol) – Patricia Highsmith
3 months ago