When in Rome: A Novel
Can a fifty-two year-old woman be the central character in a coming-of-age novel? In skillful hands, she can. Claire is in desperate need of resolving the central dilemmas of her life. After years of selling old and abandoned church properties, she travels to Rome to market another convent. There, she falls in love—first with Rome itself, then with the convent and its few remaining nuns. Her girlhood desire to join an order is awakened—a yearning at odds with her feelings for good friend Marcus. Not to mention that both her daughter and her business partner think she has lost her mind!
Callanan writes beautifully about the city of Rome; his prose will make many readers swoon over descriptions of food, color, street life, flowers. He sprinkles in a bit of magic and whimsy (who was that person watching her run through a certain square? Which lock might an ancient key open?) along with perspectives from each of the main characters. The first part drags a bit as it slowly builds to revealing an action Claire took on the eve of her college graduation, but the second part gallops along to a wild climax and satisfying conclusion.
|Penguin Publishing Group
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