I'm working on a novel which is set in the late 1920s, and the protagonist is a minor Lord in England. I wrote the first four chapters and handed it to an American friend, whose criticism largely consisted of how poorly I understood English society and that my characters behaved in utterly unbelievable ways toward each other.
I'm having a hard time with this criticism because I've seen other works (written, film, television), in which characters behaved similarly, some of which are by English writers, and some predate or are contemporary with the period of which I'm writing.
My question is: let's say that she is at least partly right, how does one strike a balance between creating believable characters and situations, and telling the story one wants to tell, when one is writing pseudo-historically in an alternate universe. I've often found that you can stretch the reality to the point of it being irritating as a reader/viewer even when it's obvious fantasy, for example, H.G. Wells in Warehouse 13. Is it a matter of setting expectations early on, about how much the story sticks to reality? Is this really just a question of personal taste? She was also confused about the time period (she thought it was Victorian, and in such case the upperclass/lowerclass distinctions were different). I wonder if perhaps I needed to make this more obvious as well.