'The House at Riverton' by Kate Morton.
I borrowed this from my mother-in-law just before the holiday, since it looked like the perfect holiday read. Richard & Judy recommended it on their 'summer reads' list (slightly lighter than their ordinary book list) and although it was clearly chick-lit of the historical family epic variety, at first glance it was well-written with some lovely descriptions and a nice turn of phrase.
I have to admit, though, that I'm struggling. Gradually the balance has shifted from chick-lit to outright melodrama, and too often the characters are making choices or taking action based on what the plot requires them to do, rather than what they'd be likely to do in real life. Why on earth would a young serving-girl give up the love of her life, for instance, just so she could stay with her current mistress? I'd have a job believing that in the modern world; in the 1920s when marriage was the most important thing in almost any woman's life (unless she was in a professional career such as teaching, which this heroine wasn't), it just seemed silly.
On top of that, the book is narrated in the present by Grace, the 98-year-old heroine, ostensibly making an audio tape of her life for her grandson, who's vanished while on a round-the-world trip. I was looking forward to finding out whether Marcus ever reappears, and what he thinks of his grandmother's life story. But the book finishes in the past, on a note of high (and ridiculous) drama, and the present Grace vanishes with her own story left unresolved.
It's a good enough read if you want something to flip through by the pool, but I don't think the plot or the characters stand closer examination.