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Unveilingby Suzanne Wolfe
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of Christianity Today Award of Merit for Fiction 2005
Awarded 2005 Honorable Mention for First Time Author of a Book by the Catholic Press Association
When Rachel Piers, a brilliant young conservateuse at a Manhattan art gallery, is given the dream assignment of restoring a mysterious medieval painting in a church in Rome, she seizes the opportunity. Not only will she advance her career in one of the most inspiring and romantic cities in the world, but she can finally leave behind a bitter divorce and an even more painful childhood incident. But as Rachel meticulously restores the damaged artwork, and slowly discovers the true origins of the painting, she uncovers layers of her soul that she would rather be kept hidden. Written in lucid and descriptively sumptuous prose, Unveiling brings the ancient city of Rome vividly to life and reveals a courageous woman coming to terms with a tragic past.
AN INTERVIEW WITH SUZANNE WOLFE
What (or who) was your inspiration for the main character, Rachel Piers?
I was drawn to the name of Rachel because of the Old Testament reference and the allusion to it in Moby Dick where the ship is described as Rachel weeping for all her children (paraphrase). Rachel came to me primarily as a visual image of a woman by the early twentieth century painter Modigliania elongated, dark, intense, mournful.
How long did it take you to write this novel?
I began writing it almost 10 years ago when my 3 oldest children were 8 and under. Caring for my children and teaching senior high school literature during the day necessitated my working at night when my kids were in bed and I had finished my assignments for school. Thus, I mostly wrote between midnight and 3am, getting up at 7am, teaching until 1pm and then doing the mom thing until the cycle repeated itself
Are any of the struggles of the main character, Rachel Piers (physical violation, betrayal of relationships, repressed emotions) based on experiences from your own life?
Like Rachel, my own experience of post-traumatic stress disorder has taught me that the body itself has a memory and is sometimes wiser than the head. The body reminds us that we have to go through suffering in order to heal and move on with our lives.
You tackle many complicated and traumatic issues in this one character's life. What does this book say to readers about the soul's ability to heal from trauma?
I am interested in the theme of grief and how this can change us for better or for worse. One cannot go around suffering; one has to go through it. Flannery O'Connor once said that being ill (she had lupus) was like living in a country, it was so encompassing. I think grief is like that. Once one crosses the border into grief, one must journey across it in order to leave it behind.
Unveiling brings the city of Rome vividly to life. Did you travel to Rome while writing the book?
I went to Rome after I had written the first draft of the novel and before I reworked it. I found the experience to be invaluable. I spent most of the two weeks there walking around looking, listening, smelling, tasting Rome, and taking un-touristy pictures of trash cans, graffiti, cobblestones, pigeons etc.a the details of the city.
Is art history/restoration a field of personal significance to you? What is your own background with art?
I am not only fascinated with art, but also medieval history. The triptych gave me the opportunity to combine both loves and to learn the painstaking and intricate process of art conservation.
Praise for Unveiling:
With an imaginative vision akin to that of Dante,
Still reeling from her recent divorce, Rachel Piers flies to Rome to work on a demanding art restoration project. As she uncovers layers of grime on what could prove to be a lost Flemish masterpiece, Rachel uncovers layers of her own soul.
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