I read Centennial by James Michener way back in the day. It began with the forming of the west, from the glaciers! At the time I had little kids. I didn’t have time to read about how the west was formed, I wanted the story, the people. I do remember scanning through the pages and finding a story of the first beavers. I stopped and read every word, but when the beavers went away, I scanned until I found where the story of the people really begins. Then I couldn’t put the book down.
In this day and age, with the web and instant gratification, very few want to read about the land. They want a story. It’s important to research the information about the century you want to write about in your book. But I don’t want a history lesson.
In Prada and Prejudice by Amanda Hubbard, her research of 1800 England shows through in her writing. Not as history, though, as part of the story. Our protagonist, Callie, slips and falls and goes back in time to 1815. Ms. Hubbard tells of the dirt road with lots of ruts, trees, and the large house Callie finally reaches in her Prada heels. Interspersed throughout the story is what clothes are worn, the servants bring water up to the room for baths, and the town with its dress shop and dry goods store. I can visualize this small town outside of London without having to know how it got there. Will she get back to present day? Fall in love with the Duke? Will they find out she is an imposter? Will she find her confidence? Will she ever be able to walk in those damn Prada heels?
Hook your reader with questions. Some answered quick, some not so quick.