Jessie: Still basking in the glow of yesterday’s release, Murder Flies the Coop!
As we finish up our series exploring variants of “back” I hope you won’t mind if I tie it to historical mysteries as a way to keep celebrating my love for my Beryl and Edwina series. Those books are set in the the early 1920s and it got me to thinking about things we take for granted now that people in that time would have been surprised by. So, Wickeds, what do you think people living almost a hundred years ago would find shocking or incredible about life as we know it? Or, which things have come into being during the course of your own lifetime that are the most surprising to you?
Sherry: I love Edwina and Beryl so much, Jessie. I think they would both be amazed and delighted by search engines! There is so much information available at our fingertips. Some day I should count how many times in one day I look something up on my phone or computer. With that wealth of information comes the great responsibility of parsing what is true and what isn’t. But I constantly marvel at our ability to look up who that actor is on the TV or what houses in Croatia look like. It’s heaven!
Julie: Huge congratulations, and an even bigger thank you for the latest Beryl and Edwina adventure, Jessie! You glowed the first time you told me about this series, and I’m so pleased that readers are able to enjoy them. The time period you are writing about is a tough one–post WWI England. I loved Agatha Christie novels, and have done a lot of research on her. WWI had a huge impact on her. She was a nurse during the war, which led to her interest in potions and gave her the expertise on poisons she used in her books. The advances in modern medicine are incredible, especially compared to a hundred years ago. As for my lifetime, I’m with Sherry. Smart phones blow my mind, and the web as it exists now can be challenging, but what a connection tool.
Barb: First of all, congrats again on Murder Flies the Coop, Jessie. I am so excited about this series. All four of my grandparents were born around the turn of the last century. When I knew them in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, they were thoroughly modern people. The changes they had seen in their lifetimes were astonishing. Telephones, television, airplanes, and the ubiquity, if not the actual invention, of home electricity and private automobiles. How could all that happen in one lifetime? And yet time marches on. I have often reflected how much my grandfather would have HATED Google. He kept a diary all his adult life, ultimately they spanned more than six decades. Whenever there was a dinner table discussion like, “What year was that hurricane?” “What year were there three huge snowstorms in a row and the snow was six feet high?” “What year did the Verrazano Narrows Bridge open?” He would get out his diaries and give us the answer, which made him the Greatest Living Authority on All Things. Now that everyone at the table could get the answer from a device they can carry in a pocket, it would drive him crazy.
Edith: I am delighted for your new book, Jessie! It’s such a great series. My paternal grandmother Dorothy Henderson Maxwell, born in 1899, was always ahead of her time. She was the first woman to drive halfway across the country in an automobile when she was only eighteen, and I just discovered her very roaring twenties wedding picture. As a woman skilled at navigating (she always drove the family car, not my grandfather), I think she would be fascinated by GPS and Google Maps. So much information at the ready.
And my father, who fake-broadcast his own radio show when he was nine? He would be all over podcasts! That, and Google.
Liz: Congrats, Jessie! So excited for you. I think smart phones for sure, and really just the breadth and depth of the technology advances overall. It would seem like a different planet to them, I’m sure!
Jessie: I love hearing all your responses! I think Beryl would be surprised at the reality of an international space station. I am certain she would want to visit it but she would be surprised it had arrived so early in time. She also would be very interested in the sorts of improvements made to outdoor clothing with all its extra warmth and or moisture repelling properties. And, as she is a horrid cook would delight in the invention of the microwave. Even she could heat things without burning them too often!
Edwina would likely be captivated by the internet and all the available information. She would adore Ravelry ( a sort of Facebook for knitters and crocheters), online garden forums and Pinterest. I also think she would enjoy audiobooks as she does so love to listen to radio dramas on the wireless when she thinks Beryl isn’t paying attention!
Readers, which changes since 1920 do you think are the most impressive, impactful – or egregious?