Lesson #102: Enjoying Autumn Fruits with George Eliot’s ‘Middlemarch’


More autumnal fruits from the garden!

I hope to make applesauce by peeling these apples, chopping them into small chunks, then placing them in a saucepan with a little water and allowing them to simmer for about 10 minutes while stirring them gently.

It reminds me of how the British novelist George Eliot described the country home of the Garth family in her novel Middlemarch (1871):

📗 ‘The Garth family, which was rather a large one, for Mary had four brothers and one sister, were very fond of their old house, from which all the best furniture had long been sold. Fred [a neighbour and admirer of Mary Garth] liked it too, knowing it by heart even to the attic which smelt deliciously of apples and quinces, and until to-day he had never come to it without pleasant expectation…’

👉 Notice how the adjective ‘smelt’ is spelled out: it could also be written as ‘smelled’. British English speakers are more likely to use either spelling, but North American English speakers will usually only use ‘smelled’.

✍️ A quince is a fruit that looks quite similar to a mellowed, yellow apple or even a pear, with a spongy texture and a sour taste. Apparently, it is a great fruit to use in making jams, puddings and even juices, although I haven’t tried it out yet!

by J. E. Gibbons

English language tutor and researcher at 'Learn English Through Literature' (2024)