Books: A Question Of Faith

A mysterious 16th century woman heals the sick and sees the future. Is she a saint or a swindler?

You don't see a lot of real saints around these days, but they've been turning up pretty regularly in the media: CBS's surprise hit Joan of Arcadia, David Guterson's Our Lady of the Forest, not to mention Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. You can see the appeal of these stories: there's something a touch American about people who transcend ordinary mortal failings to become saints. They're like the spiritual equivalent of Horatio Alger.

The story Henry Grunwald tells in his novel A Saint, More or Less (Random House; 234 pages) is a bit more complicated. It's based on an actual...

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