I'm still reading through the used books I picked up at the YMCA fundraiser last year and found Swan by Frances Mayes (you may remember she wrote Under the Tuscan Sun).
Although there were a lot of characters and it took me a while to familiarize myself with them at the beginning, each one is necessary for the story.
From the cover:
The Masons are a prominent but now fragmented family who have lived for generations in Swan, an Edenic, hidebound small Georgia town. As Swan opens, a bizarre crime pulls Ginger Mason home from her life as an archaeologist in Italy. The body of her mother, Catherine, a suicide nineteen years before, has been mysteriously exhumed. Ginger is reunited on new terms with her troubled, isolated brother, J.J., who has never ventured far from Swan, and together the Mason children grapple with the profound effects of their mother's life and death on their own lives.
I found that Ms. Mayes captured Southern life wonderfully and kept me interested throughout the ups and downs of both the past and present of the Mason family and those surrounding them. She has a wonderful way of describing the setting and characters. However, I did find that it seemed to end abruptly and left a lot of unanswered questions.