Readers probably know that there is something to be said for finding the right read for the right time or mood. When in Rome was that kind of book for me. It offered a slower, somewhat more contemplative stroll through the life of its protagonist, Claire and was just the kind of book that I was seeking.
As the story opens, Claire is fifty-two years old. Her daughter, Dorothy, is in her late twenties and was raised by Claire as an only child. Claire’s own mother died when she was young leaving her to be raised by her father as a single parent. She also became well known to her Milwaukee community of nuns.
Claire goes to Yale where she makes a very good female friend and also falls for Marcus. Her nascent desire to become a nun remains even as Claire takes a post graduation real estate job where her specialty is the sale of ecclesiastical buildings.
This career sends Claire to Rome, a city that is lovely to visit in Claire’s company. There she meets a group of idiosyncratic sisters who engage with her. Will they lose their unique convent to a real estate developer?
The crux of the story is about what decisions Claire will make and what she wants in her life. Is it to be a nun or is it to remain in the world, possibly with Marcus? Read this gentle novel to find out.
Publishers Weekly calls this one “a delight.” I heartily agree.
Many thanks to Penguin Group Dutton for this title. All opinions are my own.
From the Publisher
“If Eat, Pray, Love was organized in a different order, it might feel a bit like Callanan’s introspective and genuine exploration of the sacrifices and opportunities that come with a new outlook on life. Taking a wide view of love of all types—platonic, spiritual, romantic, geographic—When in Rome should appeal to fans of Kate Atkinson, Kate Weinberg, and Emma Straub.”
“Callanan writes a richly drawn story about a woman feeling lost in her own life and finding unexpected connections, with a lively cast of supporting characters. . . . A quiet and ultimately joyous depiction of self-discovery against a vibrant Roman setting.”
“Callanan (Paris by the Book) builds a charming story from a woman’s midlife crisis…Callanan keeps things moving with the question of the convent’s fate hanging over the characters, and carefully outlines Claire’s complicated feelings about her relationships and vocation. This is a delight.”