'"It is strange and fascinating to me to think of people - Avila in particular - praying me into existence."
'Sydney Peony Kent is nineteen years old. She was a longed-for IVF baby, "product of an unknown egg and unknown sperm" implanted in her mother, Avila. Avila not only used the latest scientific techniques to conceive Sydney, but also prayed to the Bambinello, a small carved and jewelled statue of the infant Jesus housed in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome and said to have miraculous properties.
'Avila's distant relative Father Roland Bruccoli was conceived in a more conventional manner, but his mother too prayed to the Bambinello before his birth - and that of his twin sister Eleena. It is when the adult Roland is visiting the church of Santa Maria one evening that the Bambinello is stolen. Roland hopes that Father Cosimo, an archivist, poet and riddler said to speak in the ancient green language of the troubadours, can assist in discovering what has happened to the Bambinello. But when matters of belief are involved, nothing is straightforward, as Sydney discovers herself when she too becomes caught up in tracing the Bambinello's fate.
'Deftly weaving together religion, science, pregnancies wanted and unwanted, love, loss and belief, Carmel Bird has created a luminous novel that both questions and celebrates the miraculous.' (From the publisher's website.)Dedication: In memory of Matthew J. Bruccoli