Jo Shepherd grew up on a farm in the Pacific Northwest under the loving care of her grandfather, Frank. After spending months nursing him through his final painful illness, Jo receives a vision of the Virgin Mary, who sends her to Italy to live out her dream of becoming an artist. In doing so, Jo must leave behind her home and her best friend Jack, and risk losing him forever. In Florence, Jo’s intense artistic visions begin to find fruition, but her odyssey is complicated when she meets Chad and Walter, two extraordinary young men. By day, Jo paints–women in a marketplace, the view of the Arno from the Piazzale Michelangelo. At night, both Chad and Walter vie for her attention. As the lives of these three friends become more deeply entwined, the revelation of painful secrets threatens to destroy their delicate balance. It isn’t until Jo returns home that she begins to face up to the legacy of her time in Italy, her very real grief for the grandfather she lost, and the prospect of a future with or without Jack.
“This debut novel is both haunting and wise in its insights on love, loss, and longing. Told with humor and warmth, the story of Joanna’s self-discovery is as vivid as it is inviting. [A] lyrical, languorous tale of enlightenment.” —People
“Subtle and elegant. This story’s power, like the heroine’s talent, reveals itself carefully and cautiously.” —New York Times Book Review
A strongly personal story with a fascinating main character. . . Schneider’s descriptions of the artistic process are nothing short of excellent. The meditation on connections between people and home, and the push and pull of finding maturity, ring real. . . An enjoyable summer read.” —Denver Post “Faultless prose, lit by faith, hope and love.” —Seattle Times