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22nd June 2023
In Louisa May Alcott's Good Wives (1869), the newly married Meg tries to please husband John: "fired with a housewifely wish to see her storeroom stocked with homemade preserves, she undertook to put up her own currant jelly." John returns home to a "pungent smell of burned sugar" and a sobbing wife. "In the kitchen reigned confusion and despair. One edition of jelly was trickled from pot to pot, another lay upon the floor, and a third was burning gaily on the stove." Anyone who has had a jam disaster or whose "jelly won't jell" will commiserate - and laugh. The beautiful berry painting is Still Life with Redcurrants (1900) by Eloise Harriet Stannard.
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