That Summer by Lauren Willig
In 2009 Julia learns she has inherited a house in England from a relative she doesn’t remember from her time in that country – when her mother was still alive. Living for the past twenty or so years in New York City, having recently lost her job, she decides to fly to England to undertake the sorting and cleaning of the house to prepare it for sale. While sorting she finds a well hidden pre-Raphaelite painting of Tristan and Isolde: featuring a figure who could be the former lady of the house.
In 1849 Imogen Grantham has been married for a decade to a much older man she thought was the love of her life. Now, old enough to know better, she sees it was only a crush. Yet she married him and is now bound to him. The intellectual life she thought was ahead of her is unattainable and her husband is no more than a stranger to her. Fond of Medieval art her husband acquires items of the era, items which come to the attention of the pre-Raphaelite painters who believe in painting from life. Gavin Thorne comes to use the artifacts in the backgrounds of his paintings and leaves one day with a commission to paint Imogen’s portrait. Over the course of their time together as model and artist Imogen falls in love with Gavin and he with her. How can their love live?
You know as soon as she finds the picture of Tristan and Isolde that at least one storyline may not have a happy ending. (Don’t worry the 2009 story more than makes up for the tragic love story.) Willig does a fine job, yet again, with unfolding two storylines through alternate chapters. I suggest this one for those looking for a romantic beach read with substance.