The surface trappings of a woman's obsession with a nun is the stuff of this quirky first novel, from an author of travel articles and children's books. Anna Stewart has finally settled down after a vagabond childhood. She's installed in a sprawling apartment in a Roman palazzo, she's written a novel, and she's happy in her relationship with Simon, an absent-minded concert pianist. Her newly found calm is shattered when Simon is hit by several cars and taken comatose to the Villa Monte Sacre hospital. He hovers near death, and Anna hovers near him, unflaggingly optimistic. As her bedside vigil stretches on, she makes friends with one of the nuns, the serene and pretty Sister Clotilde. After six weeks, Simon finally dies and Anna returns home to the loneliness of the apartment they once shared. The only bright spot in her life is a weekly visit to the hospital to spend an hour talking about nothing with soothing Sister Clotilde. When dashing Alex Sareuth convinces Anna to write the screenplay for a film he's going to direct, her world begins to fill up with conferences and parties, but her emotional focus remains the weekly visit with the fascinating nun. When one of Clotilde's favorite young patients suffers a severe setback, Anna gives her a comforting hug that almost turns into a kiss. Will Anna pursue this dangerous passion for her saintly friend? Or will she be drawn in by the more conventional seductions of the film world? Or will she revert to the wandering ways of her childhood? Good on atmospherics, but as a chronicle of Anna's emotional meanderings, the book's less satisfying: We follow her around Europe, eavesdrop on a few of her memories and reflections, but are never made privy to anything deeper. In all: most memorable for the odd couplings.