Unlike Macdonald's recent interlinked, turn-of-the-century portraits of lively, liberation-minded females on the go in Cornwall (A Notorious Woman, 1989; An Innocent Woman, 1991; A Woman Alone, 1991), this Ireland-set tale, in which a revenge-minded lass of talent and beauty revives a centuries-old family feud, creeps on at a crab-slow pace--somewhat reminiscent of the author's His Father's Son, (1990), which, like this amiable novel, sidles into family interplay and class and caste consciousness with lots and lots of talk. ``Families...[are] the most destroying, vengeful, flesh- consuming, spirit-quenching institutions...but as long as you know that, it's worth the fight to preserve them.'' Thus says the aging and dying drunk who is the second son of the titled Lyndon-Fury family, Protestant Irish who had, in 1645, done in their kin the O'Lindons, now struggling and scattered about the country. It's Daisy O'Lindon of Dublin who, insulted by Lady Lyndon-Fury and tired of idling at the home of her small-time manufacturer father, scents the lure of revenge--on the whole pack of Lyndon-Furys. In no time she's attracted Napier, the L.Fs' third son, an artist at the academy where Daisy models. But then Daisy falls in love, becomes pregnant, and the battle begins for the soul of Napier. Family wins, and they part. Daisy will marry solid, ambitious third cousin Stephen, raise his children--along with ``Caro,'' her daughter by Napier--and slowly the Lyndon-Fury fortunes dwindle while Stephen and Daisy gently close in. There'll be the deaths of two sons, accidental tragedies, and a suicide. At the close, the remnants of the Lyndon-Furys leave forever--but a heartbreaking loss evens the game of revenge. With generally agreeable, chatty characters, a slow-moving but--like some of Macdonald's others--restfully gossipy novel.