‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ This verse from St Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews serves as the epigraph for Francesca Kay’s second novel. The story, set in a contemporary south London Catholic community, takes shape around a miracle. I can imagine the tabloid headlines: FAT DOTTY SPINSTER SEES JESUS STATUE WINK AND BLEED. Unfortunately, a nurse at the hospital believes the enormous, mentally subnormal woman and behold, the press appear and the church is invaded.
The Catholic Church hasn’t enjoyed a good press in recent years. The interminable child-abuse scandals revealed a rotten institution, and Pope Benedict rattles the Muslim cages from time to time with medieval quotations. How, one wonders, will Kay deal with the subject? The book’s structure, rooted in domestic