Dublin by Edward Rutherford.
I have read all of the previous works of Edward Rutherford, and have enjoyed them (particulary London and Sarum). He follows a simiilar formula to James A. Michener, he tells the story of a particular place throughout history. He starts with a set of characters, whose decendants then become the centre of the story in the next part. He puts alot into character developement, as sometimes he as certain family traits or characteristics appearing down the line. The characters are also of different social standings, but these may change in later generations due to the ebb and flow of family fortunes.
Dublin is his latest effort, as I believe this is where the author now lives. This book tells the story of Dublin up till the time of Henry VIII. The story is continued in the next book (I borrowed this book from my mum and I'm sure she has the next one too). Dublin covers alot of the basics of the make up of the Irish people - their Celtic and Viking backgrounds, the chieftains, and the strength of the Irish Catholic Church. This must be setting the stage for the beginning of "the Troubles" in the next book.
Rutherford is a great storyteller, and the research he must do for these books is incredible. He clearly writes with a need to tell the story of a particular place, but he certainly endevours to do all he can to be true to history. His characters may be fictional, but they are often close to the historical figures that are pivotal to time, or are given as examples of how people at that time in history and of their social standing lived their lives.