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If she had long lost the blue-eyed, flower-like charm, the cool slim purity of face and form, the apple-blossom colouring, which had so swiftly and so oddly affected Ashurst twenty-six years ago, she was still at forty-three a comely and faithful companion, whose cheeks were faintly mottled, and whose grey-blue eyes had acquired a certain fullness.

I really cannot get a shot at what the above sentence means. Can anybody give an explanation?

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closed as too localized by MετάEd, Lynn, Kris, simchona Dec 27 '12 at 7:09

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The clue is in the fifth word lost. The sentence is referring to her fading looks. –  spiceyokooko Dec 24 '12 at 12:40
    
I grab this sentence from a novel "The Apple Tree" authored by John Galsworthy, British. –  Irwin Dec 24 '12 at 12:52
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Is this even on topic? I don't know. –  Kris Dec 24 '12 at 13:32
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You could replace If with Although and not change the meaning. Otherwise, you really have to be more specific about what you fail to understand. This is a long sentence, but it's not particularly complex. –  TimLymington Dec 24 '12 at 14:43
    
Off topic: criticism, discussion, and analysis of English literature. –  MετάEd Dec 24 '12 at 16:16
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2 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It means she wasn't as good-looking as she used to be when she was younger, but at forty-three she still had what Ashurst considered a pleasing appearance and he liked having her around.

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+1 For plain English use! –  spiceyokooko Dec 24 '12 at 13:18
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The main clause is ‘she was still at forty-three a comely and faithful companion’. ‘Companion’ is post-modified by the two relative clauses that begin ‘whose cheeks . . .’ and ‘whose grey-blue eyes . .’

The first part of the sentence, ‘If she . . . years ago’, qualifies the positive qualities described in the second part.

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I don't get "If she had long lost the blue-eyed". Does it mean she has lost the charm or not? –  Irwin Dec 24 '12 at 12:56
    
And can I say she is forty-three years old now from "she was still at forty-three a comely and faithful companion"? –  Irwin Dec 24 '12 at 12:58
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See if you find it easier to understand by substituting while for if. She has lost her earlier charm, but some attractions remain. Yes, it means she was 43 at the time of the description. –  Barrie England Dec 24 '12 at 13:11
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Or again, use Even if for the first If. Even if X has happened, Y still holds true. –  Andrew Leach Dec 24 '12 at 13:16
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Yes, @AndrewLeach. This is a rather literary use of if to mean even if. –  Colin Fine Dec 24 '12 at 13:18
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