It is 1968. Rose Clinton arrives at St Elizabeth’s, a Roman Catholic home for unwed mothers in Habit, Kentucky. Rose has fled her dull but loving husband without telling him she is pregnant and has decided to be ‘a liar for the rest of my life’. As penance, she has also abandoned her widowed and much loved mother, with no mention of her condition. Rose plans to give her baby up because she knows she cannot be the mother it needs. But St. Elizabeth’s is home to a healing spring, and when Rose’s time draws near, she realises that she cannot go through with her plans. Nor can she remain untouched by those she has left behind; by the ever-watchful Sister Evangeline; by the love of Son, the handyman at St. Elizabeth; or later by the birth of her daughter Cecilia. Enchantingly graceful, Ann Patchett’s first novel is about sanctuary and pilgrimage, pain and healing and the helping hand of chance.