Beyond the regional flavor of the books, Taylor reflected the era in her details. The books set before the war deal with the hardships of the Great Depression. From 1941 to 1945, the reader gets a glimpse into the world of ration coupons that went on across the country, blackouts, people missing while serving at war. Taylor’s fictional world is such a mirror of the times that the reader can play historian and archaeologist as well as sleuth. This level of accuracy is leveraged well in the books. The reader is so entrenched in the minutiae of the book that it becomes easier to accept the more preposterous events that take place over the course of the novel. Were the book not so well grounded in real details, the reader might not be willing to move along with the plot.
These day-to-day particulars came easy to her as an author. Taylor was keenly aware of her own powers of observation. In a letter to her cousin, Taylor once wrote, “I tell myself I don’t see enough, but the photographic memory works in spite of myself and I notice as much as I do at home – the trick of observation is largely lost, I think, in childhood; I leaned to cover up long ago, but notice too much always, and it’s helpful traveling, but if an occasional social curse at home.”
I expect that a century from now people will still read Taylor’s books and understand the hardships of the greatest generation.