A religious curio from Hill, a British romance maven known for her murder, rape, and adultery-packed historicals (The Sutburys, 1988, etc.). Here, however, she seems a writer born again, offering the life story of the 13th-century saint Margaret of Metola. Little Margaret, born blind, hunchbacked, and crippled to the Lord Parisio, commandant of the Castello Metola, and his wife, Lady Emilia, poses a serious embarrassment to her warlike father. First, Parisio walls her up in a mountain cell (when she's just six), then takes her to the town of Castello for a miraculous cure. When sight and straightened limbs are not forthcoming, her parents abandon her on the steps of a church, and soon the godly creature begins a life of ministering to the city's poor. A stint in a convent comes next, but the lax nuns soon turn her out, since her holiness strikes them as a colossal bore. Next she becomes an initiate in the Order of St. Dominic, doing good works galore, bringing hardened criminals and silly girls to God, and eventually working miracles. She dies in 1302; and when her body is exhumed around 1600, the corpse is amazingly undesiccated--further support for beatification. Hill creates the 13th-century world evocatively, but reveres Margaret too profoundly to elaborate on her characters or story--resulting in an uninspiringly thin fictional biography.