Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Devil's in the details

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. 


  1. That's a British ration coupon and it's from the post war era. US ones don't look like that at all. They were color coded for the different products. And children's ration coupons were different from adult coupons! I was astonished when going through my mother's belongings in a dusty old box retrieved from her attic that she had saved loads of paper and documents and other souvenirs dating all the way back to her childhood in the late 1920s. Among them we found loads of used ration coupon booklets for gas, milk, dairy products. One of the coupons is still attached to the book!

    1. The date is absolutely horrifying - to think the Brits still had rationing in 1953! I knew that rationing was still in force then but it still horrifies me.

  2. Oops, I guess the devil is in the details. I just pulled one from the web. This was before my time!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.