This is a perishable small novel of gentle mien dealing with the time when Jacob Colman, who has lost his job and his wife (or so he thinks) comes to the little Sardinian village of Lontano where a crippled girl, Marisa, has been accorded the highest honor -- she will represent the Holy Virgin in the Easter procession. But then the local doctor finds her pregnant -- although Marisa disclaims any possibility that she is while her mother beats her and the villagers pillory her. However an outside specialist raises the possibility of parthogenesis -- a rarity which may only be proven once the baby is born. Jacob falls a little in love with her but Marisa wisely returns him to his world, loses her baby and (later) dies having raised problems for Mariolatry, the natives and the reader which remain unanswered, but they're lowercase question marks. Frail.