The Great Pride & Prejudice Trivia Quiz Throwdown

Enquiring readers: Today I welcome our own JASNA-Vermont member Michelle Singer with her guest post on our very interesting adventure in the world of Pride and Prejudice trivia…!

Pride & Prejudice Trivia Quiz Throwdown

Guest blog by Michelle A.L. Singer

November 3, 2011

Somewhere in Vermont, we knew, a men’s Jane Austen book group was meeting. You can imagine our regard. Were they based in Montpelier, we wondered, where we were? Or in Burlington, where JASNA Vermont held its quarterly meetings? With delicacy, we inquired after the gentlemen and found that they had been in our own village the whole time! We approached a known member of the group at the next JASNA meeting at Champlain College in Burlington, and what fortune! Two of the group’s members were there and had such pleasing manners! Dropping all pretense of modesty, we immediately challenged them to a Pride & Prejudice trivia quiz throwdown, battle of the sexes style. (I had been exercising great strength of will by not opening the Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Trivia Game by Marina Games that I had bought months before.) They accepted.

And that’s how we found ourselves at the home of Thierry Guerlain on an October Sunday afternoon, laden with hors d’oeurves, mini apple pies, and a recycled team bowling trophy fitted out for the occasion with “Jane Austen Champions” lettering and little gold P & P books for the bowlers, I mean Janeites, to hold in their front hands. [editor’s note: a brilliant concoction! – see below]

After the necessary introductions, we sat across a table covered with food in Mr. Guerlain’s side parlor, four women and four men. Deb Barnum, JASNA Vermont Regional Coordinator, Erica who had read the entire text in preparation, Sarah Madru who made the sweet potato and goat cheese bruschetta, and I, Michelle Singer who brought the game and the trophy.

Sarah, Michelle, Erica, sans Deb

Across from us, four members of the famous [editors’ note: ‘infamous’] men’s Jane Austen book group, our host Thierry Guerlain, George Shumar, John Bollard and Ed Good, gentlemen all.

John, George, Thierry, and Ed

The game instructed us to roll the die and, if we answered the Pride and Prejudice trivia question correctly, to collect the amount of points on the die. Answering correctly allowed the team to roll again and answer another question, until they missed. The turn then passed to the other team. The first team to earn 25 points could then claim victory. Rejecting the handicap of “Ladies first” we rolled to see who would start, and the women won the right to begin the game.

We immediately found ourselves in a good position to answer the very text-specific question, “How far was Lucas Lodge from Meryton?” It was possible to guess since it was obviously not above five miles, but we didn’t need to guess. It was the kind of answer (“About a mile”) that you could only know if you had JUST read it, which some of us (ahem) had.

We were half way to 25 points before the men even had a chance to answer a question (and get it wrong) before we regained control of the game and answered question after question, overcoming the 25 points in just two turns. And so it was that the women won the first game of the night and the men suggested we change the structure of the game. [editor’s emphasis]

In an effort to be lovely and amiable, we agreed. We decided to take turns asking questions. The first team to 11 (ping pong) correct answers would win. The men answered first, creating confusion from there on out about who was “winning” since they were always one point ahead…until we answered and evened the score (every time). We soon both reached 11 without a misstep and then continued without missing a question until we just stopped counting. It was now sudden death; the first team to answer incorrectly would lose.

Warm up counts for a lot. Questions that seemed confusing at first like, “Who warned Elizabeth of Mr. Wickham’s mistreatment of Mr. Darcy?” (Miss. Caroline Bingley) became obvious once our heads were fully focused on P & P for an hour. Soon it felt like they were all as easy as, “Who sometimes arranges such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions?” (Mr. Collins, of course.)

Finally, after at least 30 questions back and forth, the fateful moment came, or rather, the fateful question: “What did Mrs. Bennet think was Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s reason for visiting Longbourn?” Uhhhhhhh. We tried to recreate the scene. I said something about the middle of the night. We were immediately docked one point for giving an answer from a movie version rather than the text (Lady Catherine de Bourgh bangs on the Bennet door in the middle of the night only in the Kiera Knightly version of P & P. As we all know, when Lady Catherine visits and they take the walk in the “prettyish kind of a little wilderness” on one side of the lawn in full daylight). Even after getting our scene straight, we could not account for what Mrs. Bennet thought of the visit. And so, we were sunk. (The answer is very obscure. She expects news from Mr. & Mrs. Collins.)

And so it was that the second game of the evening came to an end with the men’s team as victors. I will say that it seemed like the vast majority of easy multiple choice questions seemed to go to them. Questions like, “What town did Georgiana Darcy go to when Mr. Wickham tried to elope with her?” were good trivia questions until you got to the multiple choices of “Hunsford, Bath, or Ramsgate.” The question, “Which Bennet girl did Mr. Collins pursue for a wife? Lydia, Mary, or Elizabeth” inspired a collective groan. We ended the evening with no team able to claim the trophy, so it was relegated to the office…to await next time.

Jane Austen Champion

The best part of the evening, aside from the good food, good company, and good conversation was that a new co-ed quiz and reading group was formed out of our absolute delight in finding each other and enjoying the same diversions. And so, the quest of the female JASNA members in Montpelier to track down and pit ourselves against our male counterparts, who we had only heard rumor of, was happily answered with the perfect union of a new book group—not unlike an Austen novel itself.

Quick, what was the name of Mr. Darcy’s mother? [scroll down below for answer]

Copyright @2011, Michelle Singer at Jane Austen in Vermont

Our next read? ~ E. M. Forster, A Room with a View 

[ quiz answer:  Lady Anne Darcy ]