Superb prose and gritty themes combine to make Suzanne Wolfe's first novel a commendable debut.
Dr. Rachel Piers has ostensibly come to Rome to direct the conservation of a panel painting in an old church, a painting as blemished and ruined on the surface as her own life. She's haunted by her failed marriage and the horrific memory of the betrayal of her trust as a young teen-repeatedly brought to mind by the motifs of roses and blood.
Of Rachel, Wolfe writes, "All her life she had acquiesced to the pretense that everything was fine so long as you didn't talk about it, so long as you got on with things, whatever that meant."
As Rachel strips away the dirt, dust, and damage to the aged panel painting with the help of her restoration team, she makes a parallel interior journey of her own. Wolfe, executive editor of Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, knows how to turn a phrase, and her lovely writing keeps the detailed information on art restoration from bogging down the reader.
Cindy Crosby is the author of By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer (Paraclete, 2003).
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