This book, from 1979, concerns the ramifications of the production of a TV program (okay, television programme) about Hugh Paxton, a 5 years dead archaeologist who had made a major discovery about ancient England. Hugh's daughter, Kate, and her fiance, Tom (who is an historian studying for his thesis a 17th century antiquarian/archaeologist) come down to Hugh's old home to visit Hugh's widow, Laura, and her crippled sister, Nellie. Laura turns out to be a truly awful woman, portrayed with catty gusto in a way which seems unique to women writers. (If a man wrote of Laura the way Lively does he would be called a raging misogynist.) Anyway, Laura is terrible to both Kate and Nellie, very controlling but also incredibly stupid, and a raging bore to boot. Kate is emotionally stunted, presumably partly due to Laura, while Tom is a bit vague and unfocussed. Nellie, it turns out, was another archaeologist, and in love with Hugh, and on the evidence Hugh probably (but we can't be quite sure) carried on an affair with her after his marriage to Laura soured.
Over several months, the television programme production progresses, Tom works toward his degree, his relationship with Kate hits some rocks, while secrets about Hugh and Nellie and his discoveries seem ready to burst dangerously into the open. The resolution is emotionally sensible, though a bit understated -- it seemed to me that some guns shown on the mantel were left unfired. But it's a very nice book, and all the main characters come through very strongly, though I did think at times the portrait of Laura seemed almost of necessity a caricature. Certainly I will be reading more Lively.