Triptych

by Marcia Whitney-Schenek

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.



This is a fascinating and complicated book not written for the faint-of-heart! The scholarship and the tenacity of the writer to the time periods she is illustrating is unprecedented. Triptych is an historical novel composed of three narratives receding in time: Belgium in 1914m Spain in 1492, and France in 1356. The author/artist is interested in the integration of history, art, and spirituality. Her scholarship is embedded in the work she accomplished to obtain her Masters degree at the University of Chicago.


The author traces the journey of a mysterious statue of the Black Madonna, one of many such statues often found in meadows and riverbeds and associated with miracles. No one knows who sculpted them or why. In the book we meet Genevieve Lespinasse, trained by her father to become and an accomplished sculptor. Circumstances force here to create a Madonna that must appear clumsily made but which contains an expertly carved secret niche. This Madonna travels through the centuries to play a decisive role in the lives of Sister Juana, a nun and apothecary who dares to criticize the Spanish Inquisition, and Gabrielle Lespinasse, a Belgian lace maker who loses her ability to speak as a result of a vicious assault, but whose course changes the lives of others. The author has written several other books that demonstrate her understanding and knowledge of art, history and spirituality. She is a Chicago-based author.