Suzanne M. Wolfe, Author . Paraclete $19.95 (190p) ISBN 978-1-55725-354-5

This dark and lovely first novel from Wolfe, the executive editor of Image ("A Journal of the Arts and Religion"), uses themes of faith, brokenness and redemption to create a memorable work of fiction. Dr. Rachel Piers specializes in restoring old panel paintings, but she's failed to strip away the dirt and damage done to her personal life. Divorce, an incestuous adolescent rape and a forced abortion have left her soul sick, her idealism shattered—as fragile and scarred as the artwork she refurbishes. When Rachel travels to Rome to direct the restoration of an old triptych amid politics of the art world that threaten her integrity, she dares to hope she might learn to love and trust again. With beautiful prose and an extensive, fresh vocabulary that doesn't succumb to showiness, Wolfe guides the reader through the mechanics of art restoration while chronicling Rachel's emotional and spiritual healing. As she works on the triptych, "Her fierce joy in stripping away the accumulated detritus of dirt and varnish, or uncovering, inch by inch, section by section, original pigment and the miracle of form, sprang from a passionate need to recover something blighted, something lost through human neglect and the obscuring overlay of time." The amount of technical art restoration facts and description occasionally feels a bit weighty, and one of the few missteps is the unnecessary incorporation of September 11 references. Nonetheless, this is an excellent novel that should appeal to both general literary readers interested in the art world and readers of faith. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-64060-062-1
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-1-55725-450-4
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