There are times when I am working on one of my Regency novels and I wonder how much background information to provide. If you are a regular reader of Regency and I refer to Whites, you already know that this is a Gentleman's Club with a bay window where patrons sat, and a famous betting book. It is referred to often enough in romances that a Regency reader need no further explanation when the author writes, "Sir Jones strode out of his house in Mayfair and headed toward Whites." However, what about the person who picks up a Regency romance for the first time? They are not going to know what Whites is. Or for that matter, the importance of an address in Mayfair? What if the author writes instead, "Sir Jones strode out of the house and headed toward his favorite club, Whites." Would that provide enough information? Do you need to know that it was famous for its betting book and bay window? And, is it necessary to point out where his house happens to be? If so, should the author add, the fashionable district of Mayfair? Here is how the sentence could read:
"Sir Jones strode out of his house, located in the fashional neighborhood of Mayfir, and headed toward Whites, where is held a membership at the Gentlemen's club best known for his betting book and bay window."
Whites and Mayfair aren't the only things that come into question that Regencey readers and authors take for granted. Who can tell me what Boodles is? The ton, Almacks, whist, wallflower, on the shelf, rake, dandy. . . . There is an entire list, not to mention the rules of deportment one must take into consideration, or at what hour does one pay calls, or the best time to be seen in Hyde Park, etc.
I suppose my questions is, how much is too much for a regular reader/author of Regency romance and how much is too little for a first time reader of Regency? Is it possible to strike a balance? I would hate to lose potential readers because they don't need the explanation and want to move forward in the story, nor do I want to lose potential readers new to Regency because they are somewhat confused by the terminology. One recent reader, very new to Regency, suggested a list of terms and meanings be placed at the back of my book but I think that may be a bit much.
If you are a Regency romance author, have you found a way to strike a balance? If you are a Regency reader, what would you consider too much explanation? If you are new to Regency, what would you like explained?