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The Convent

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  286 ratings  ·  66 reviews
The crumbling convent of Our Lady of Mercy stands alone in an uninhabited part of the Spanish sierra, hidden on a hill among dense forest. Its inhabitants are devoted to God, to solitude and silence—six women cut off from a world they've chosen to leave behind. This all changes on the day that Mother Superior Maria Ines discovers a suitcase punctured with air holes at the ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 8th 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2010)
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Christiana Hadji
Δύο τρία πραγματάκια που πρέπει να γνωρίζει κάποιος σχετικά μ' αυτό το ατμοσφαιρικό μυθιστόρημα μυστηρίου που διαδραματίζεται σε μια γυναικεία μονή της Ισπανίας του Μεσοπολέμου:

Πρώτον, ο συγγραφέας είναι Έλληνας αλλά ζει στο Λονδίνο και γράφει στ' αγγλικά, οπότε πρόκειται για μετάφραση (άκουσα ότι ο Καρνέζης γράφει στ' αγγλικά και κατόπιν κάνει ο ίδιος την ελληνική μετάφραση, αλλά αυτό δεν διευκρινίζεται πουθενά στην συγκεκριμένη έκδοση). Αυτό με απογοήτευσε στην αρχή, καθώς προτιμώ πάντα να δια
Convents, like colleges and country estates are perfect microcosms to play out Big Ideas in novels. Authors can full these snow globes up with characters and unleash the drama without a lot of real world constraints. These are controlled, understandable environments that are always knocked for a loop by the arrival of an outsider. We all bring a common knowledge of their workings so readers go in understanding that the outsider will threaten the status quo and in general bring out the best and w ...more
The plot seemed to be interesting at first but turned out to be somewhat predictable with rather predictable ending. The story took a long time to develop and at times it got so slow, it was painful to read. I finished the book, but felt no emotional attachement to the characters and was relieved that it now is done....
I usually like this kind of books, and could not understand what was missing here. Finally, I think I get it: it feels that all characters somehow detached from the story, existin

In a remote area somewhere on the Spanish Sierra lies the Our Lady of Mercy convent. The Catholic convent was built in the 1600s, and many years later (1930s), the school for novices has closed its doors because of lack of interest. Now only six nuns remain at the crumbling convent. When a well worn suitcase with a baby boy inside is found on the steps on the convent steps, the delicate balance of convent life that the nuns have come to known is set to turmoil.

Of the six nuns, only two are hopin
Nov 02, 2013 K rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: book clubs
Recommended to K by: M
I'm giving this four stars even though it was admittedly kind of putdownable for me, and I really wavered about reducing my rating to three. Ultimately, though, four won out because of the book's haunting quality and stimulating questions which stayed with me after I closed it.

An unsuspecting nun about to leave for her errands finds a suitcase on the doorstep of the convent and discovers a sleeping baby. The mother superior instantly takes the baby as her own, and we soon discover her psychologi
For every time that a staggeringly high GR rating leads me astray, there is the occasional opposite experience, such as The Convent. I have no idea why it has scored so low - and I want to wait until after my review to find out (I have occasionally changed my mind about books post reading reviews and that seems wrong) - when I found this book to be quietly, but wonderfully, moving and altogether fascinating.
The Convent's premise is a great one - a baby turns up at the steps of a convent, abandon
May 14, 2011 DeLys rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: spain
I was anxious to read this book and read it in two days. Not that I couldn't put it down, but rather because it's an easy read. It is intended to be a bit of a mystery, but I had figured out the main plot twists long before they were revealed. I couldn't help but wonder if I would have liked it better if it had been in Spanish. It might have felt more authentic.
M.R. Dowsing
The third book I've read by this author, and it's at least as good as the others. Karnezis seems to get compared to Graham Greene a lot for some reason, but to me he's closer to Garcia Marquez. This is a terrific story about how the arrival of a baby abandoned at a convent awakens suppressed memories and emotions in the nuns who live there, and the consequences that ensue. It's such a perfect novel it should be required reading for anyone considering writing a book - there are no plot holes, the ...more
The Convent is the story of six nuns who inhabit a decaying convent in a remote region of Spain in the 1930s, and what happens when a baby suddenly turns up on the convent steps. The clue to the narrative is given in the very first line: "Those whom God wishes to destroy he first makes mad." It's a simple story told in 214 pages; but like all good literary fiction, there's a lot more to the novel than meets the eye.

And this is very good literary fiction. The writing is characterized by lightness
An isolated convent in the Spanish sierra...home to 6 nuns of varying ages, whose lives are devoted to God, reflection and solitude....Everything changes the day that a baby is found, in a padded suitcase, on the front steps.

Everything changes..the world comes to the convent in an emotional sense, at least. Jealousy, cruelty, zealotry, pride...make for a heady, deadly mix..The MOTHER SUPERIOR is at the center of the storm, having kept her own secret for many years. the misguided belief th
The setting for this new novel by Panos Karnezis is a 16th century nunnery in the Spanish Sierra. There are only 6 nuns living at Our Lady of Mercy in the early 1920’s when a newborn baby is left on the steps of the convent. Of the six, only two are eager to keep the baby. The Mother Superior, Sister Maria Ines, believes the baby is God’s way of letting her know that her past sins have been forgiven and that his arrival on their doorstep is a miracle. Sister Beatriz is happy to help Sister Maria ...more
Panos Karnezis's The Convent--I don't want to give away the plot even though it's pretty apparent where Karnezis' is headed by page 30 of The Convent. Let's just say that when a baby shows up in a suitcase at a convent that's out in the middle of nowhere; its only inhabitants are a handful of nuns; and no one comes to visit or goes to town with much frequency, that sort of narrows the field of likely suspects. Turns out the book really isn't about finding the parents of the baby, which makes mor ...more
Many of us in the secular world wonder about those who live within the cloistered environment of convents and monasteries. This book is written in stark prose that reflects the barren landscape surrounding the convent, Our Lady of Mercy, where six nuns reside. Within the convent are multiple secrets, plotting and, ultimately, madness.

When a baby is found at the entrance to the convent, he is immediately adopted by the Mother Superior, Sister María Ines. She believes that the child has been sent
This book had me imagining a dark, dank convent with creepy corners and paranoid nuns scurrying around under a heavy hand and stern evil eye of a Reverend Mother. It was hard to keep in mind that this was in the dusty ground of Spain with warm sun and cool shade. Mostly because of the cover of the edition I had which is not any of the images that are pictured for the the ISBN I had.

There were a couple grammatical and editorial things that caught me by surprise as I was reading.

The mystery revovl
A newborn is left on the doorstep of an isolated convent. His arrival wreaks havoc on the small society of nuns, and what follows is a tale of intrigue and suspense.

Entertaining read -- as books about unplanned pregnancies and suicidal tendencies go. As the reviews all say it was "very atmospheric" and definitely captured the claustrophobic existence in the convent. The dialogue between the clergy members was amusing at times, as well. Character development was not particularly deep or incisive,
There is something compelling about stories set in monasteries and convents. Perhaps it is the juxtaposition between a quiet, contemplative life and that of ambition and personal aggrandizement that makes for such great story. The Convent, by Panos Karnezis, opens with the discovery of a newborn baby left in a suitcase on the steps of a remote mountain convent in Spain. The Mother Superior Maria Ines believes that her prayers have been answered and the child is assign from God that He has forgiv ...more
This story about a foundling baby boy left on the doorstep of an isolated Spanish convent is a compelling and atmospheric read. The book is really more of a series of character studies that highlights the underlying tensions in a community of cloistered women. The reader will have no trouble figuring out the "miracle" of the the child's birth, but since this isn't really a plot-driven novel, the lack of mystery is less relevant than the author's ability to paint a vivid picture of the isolated l ...more
Lisa Hartmann Jensen
It is an easy read. Really nice when you are studying and just need a break from trying to understand. It is easy to understand the universe and the people in it, however, I never really figured out when it was suppose to be. It can get a little frustrating that they cannot see what is right in front of them :)
Oct 21, 2012 Karin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
This was in the teen section of the library sale. If you wanted to have a study on a lot of literary terms like foreshadowing, irony, etc., the book is loaded with them. The author seems to have some issues with the Catholic church as every aspect of the church is addressed...chastity of the clergy, abortion, women as administers of the Sacrament. It calls much of the church into question. The picture of how the church works in general is well described and the characters are well built. So..... ...more
predictable, I think that's the word for this book. It was a quick read.
Walt Roth
Horrible book. Boring, predictable.
This slim book received a good review in the New Yorker, and I'm glad I read it. Usually I'm a sucker for a lot of detail and description, and although there's some of that, the language is more sparing--which worked, for the most part. Karnezis chose to reveal a lot about some characters and very little about others, which I'm not sure I totally agreed with. However, I found myself really captivated by the overall mood, setting, and plot and was curious to see how he'd end it. I'd like to read ...more
This was truly incredible. I loved every second of it. While it wasn't particularly fast paced, I was so interested knowing what was happening to the baby and where it came from. My favorite part of it was the different views of the sisters. Each nun found God's plan a different way. There were such differences of opinion on what God wanted from them. Five stars because the writing was wonderful, the plot was interesting and kept me wondering, and the questions Karnezis rose had me thinking abou ...more
The Convent by Panos Karnezis is an excellent read that I really enjoyed! It is about an order of Nuns in a remote convent whose lives are dedicated to prayer and our Lord. Then one day, a baby is left on their doorstep and everything changes. The thing I liked most about this book is how the reader finds out about all the Nuns’ past lives a little at a time. It is only 212 pages but once you are into it, it’s almost impossible to put down! Give it a shot--I’m really glad I did!
A convent with only 6 nuns, and they all interpret and feel so differently about the same experience that they share. It made me think how the 6 nuns, who would have much more in common than any random 6 people you'd meet on the street. Yet, they felt the experience so differently, and so deeply. Why would we ever expect people who have much less in common with us to see the causes and effects of anything the same way we do?
This is a very easy, quick read that was enjoyable, but could have been expanded. I liked it very much, even though I found it predictable.
The story takes place in the 16th century in a convent occupied by only 6 nuns. A baby is left on the doorstep in a suitcase and that changes the balance and dynamic in the convent since they choose to keep the baby! Well written and researched, an easy afternoon read.
Very sad. It was even more sad that these characters, affiliated with the Church and ostensibly living for God, were trapped by their sins and unable to deal with them. We are all sinful human beings. But these people seemed to believe that the two options available were to live perfect lives or to hide their sins. Thank God for His forgiveness (1 John 1:9) and the freedom and peace He provides!
I enjoyed the dark setting of this novel which takes place, of course, in an old convent. The life of the nuns in this convent is very dismal and then a child is left on their doorstep. Follow the mystery of the child as you delve deeper into the life at a convent. The characters and setting come to life in the pages of this book. This would also be a great discussion for a book club.
John Boyages
Absolutely loved this book. Good short chapters (good for a mere male like me who is time poor). Impressed that he was born in Greece and now lives in London. He was born in Greece in 1967 and came to England in 1992. He studied engineering and worked in industry, then studied for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Writes very well. Great plot, suspense and intrigue.
David Grieve
9/10 for this wonderful story.

Life in an isolated Spanish convent is transformed with the arrival of a baby boy, left anonymously on the convent steps. Opinion is divided as to whether they should keep it but the nuns' opinions are shaped by their past stories.

A beautifully written story that had me gripped from start to finish. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good read.
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Panos Karnezis's books include The Maze, shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award. Born in Greece, he now lives in London.
More about Panos Karnezis...

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