Willig’s new novel is a dual narrative following both modern Julia Conley, a victim of New York’s financial crisis who finds herself out of a job, but inheriting a house – Herne House – from a mysterious aunt in England, and Imogen Grantham living in Herne House in 1849, and trapped in a loveless marriage.
When Julia travels to England to clean up the house and prepare to sell it, she chances upon a hidden painting by Gavin Thorne, an early member of the Pre-Raphaelite artistic movement.
As Julia begins to unravel the mystery of the artist and his connection to the Grantham family, she increasingly relies upon handsome antiques dealer Nicholas. While far too often dual narrative stories can have you far too ingvested in the historical character, I felt that Willig’s novel provided interesting protagonists in both the 19th and 21st centiry, and I found myself happily switching back between past and present.
Admittedly, as someone who appreciates the Pre-Raphaelite movement, I think there could have been a bit more background of the movement and its (colorful) artists. Gabriel Dante Rossetti makes only a short cameo in the novel, and, although I was hoping for somewhat more, he never returned.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the interwined stories of Imogen and Julia. This was an enjoyable read, and one I highly recommend as ‘This’ Summer draws to a close. Enjoy!