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The Convent

3.31  ·  Rating Details ·  356 Ratings  ·  83 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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Michael Kotsarinis
Αν και τα βασικά γεγονότα και η πλοκή είναι απλή, η γραφή του συγγραφέα θυμίζει ψηφιδωτό ή παζλ που σιγά σιγά αποκαλύπτει την εικόνα. Παρά το ότι εκ των υστέρων όλα μοιάζουν απλά και προφανή ο αναγνώστης επιβεβαιώνει τις υποψίες του προς το τέλος, το οποίο δένει πολύ ωραία με το όλο κλίμα του βιβλίου. Ο συγγραφέας δεν παιδεύει τον αναγνώστη μόλις αυτός καταλάβει τι γίνεται αλλά του αποκαλύπτει όλες τις λεπτομέρειες και επιταχύνει το ρυθμό. Διαβάζεται πολύ ευχάριστα.
Christiana Hadji
Feb 08, 2012 Christiana Hadji rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greek, modern-nov
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
James Barker
My last nunnery book was Muriel Sparks’ ‘The Abbess of Crewe,” a Watergate-inspired satire that was not the Dame’s finest hour. But the madness, secrecy and paranoia that were the watchwords of that novel are certainly a feature of this work by Panos Karnezis. And it works- at least at first. A baby boy is abandoned in a (ha ha, hole-y) suitcase outside the convent of Our Lady of Mercy and, to the Mother Superior, it is a sign from the Lord that she has been forgiven for sinful acts she committe ...more
Nov 06, 2010 Felice rated it liked it
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
Feb 14, 2011 Lazyreader rated it it was ok
Shelves: so-so
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
Sep 16, 2013 M rated it really liked it
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
Jan 02, 2011 Diane rated it really liked it

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
Oct 28, 2013 K rated it really liked it
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
M.R. Dowsing
Apr 13, 2015 M.R. Dowsing rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Zoe Hall
May 16, 2016 Zoe Hall rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 4-stars
Wow! I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, so thank you for sending me a copy of this unexpectedly brilliant book.

I love books set in castles, convents, etc and this book didn't disappoint. It is contextually rich and I adore the descriptions of the convent. A thoroughly fascinating read with interesting characters.

At its heart is a story of sin, redemption and religion.

I would highly recommend this book.

4 stars.
May 07, 2011 DeLys rated it liked it
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.
May 24, 2016 M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Sister María Inés had good reason to believe that the arrival of the child at the convent was the work of Divine Providence.

I won The Convent from a Goodreads giveaway, and I am always grateful for amazing people who give free books. Thank you.

What I loved most about this book is the writing. It was riveting, and had no issue capturing the reader with every page. The atmosphere created for this novel is amazing, and I could just feel myself getting lost in Our Lady of Mercy convent. It's hard t
Todd Burnett
Sep 20, 2016 Todd Burnett rated it really liked it
Atmospheric drama set in an early 20th century convent. I could definitely see this as a BBC drama or similar. The characters are engaging, the historical elements fully researched and implemented, and it made it a truly believable experience.

I would highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, period drama, and mystery. Panos Karnezis' writing made me feel like I was there experiencing the plot unfold in person.
Oct 03, 2010 Jane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Jul 18, 2016 Marc rated it it was amazing
I received The Convent in the Goodreads First reads draw. Panos Karnezis was a student at U.E.A. where I studied in the seventies. The story revolves around the mysterious discovery of a baby on the steps of the convent in early twentieth century Catholic Spain. The infant has a dramatic effect on the nuns there. Like all in the religious life Maria Ines, the mother superior has a past; in her case it's a guilty secret she seeks forgiveness for, and she reacts by assuming charge of the baby whil ...more
Nov 17, 2010 Sue rated it liked it
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
May 25, 2016 Priscilla rated it really liked it
You may think this novel has the potential to be a bit predictable when into a seemingly safe secure isolated world of 6 nuns arrives a baby left on the doorstep in a bag and yes you could still think this as you continue to read but the author is so skilful in the writing of this novel that you soon forget this as you get caught up in the thrilling story. Karnezis very quickly sets the scene so that you can easily visualise the remoteness of the convent hidden away from worldly view by trees on ...more
 Northern Light
'those who God destroys He first makes mad' is the opening line and gives the reader an inkling of where it will develop. Set in an isolated convent in the Spanish Sierra, six nuns life an uneventful life until one day an abandoned baby is found on the steps.

While the immediate thought is the child should go to the local orphanage the Mother Superior disagrees and becomes very attached to the child who she sees as a miracle sent by God allowing her to be the mother she had always wanted.

None of
Nov 23, 2010 Judith rated it liked it
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
Sep 18, 2010 Voracious_reader rated it really liked it
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
Aug 19, 2012 Pat rated it it was ok
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
May 18, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book as part of the Goodreads Giveaways

The story is based in a remote area somewhere on the Spanish Sierra where lies the convent of 'Our Lady of Mercy', built at some point in the 1600's, and set years later in the 1930's, in which a large proportion of the convent lays in ruins as there are only six nuns left in the order.

The plot Mainly follows one of the sisters (Sister Maria Ines who is the Mother Superior) and the story follows what happens when a baby is found at the steps of
Jan 21, 2011 Sherri rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
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
Jan 17, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 10, 2010 Lauren rated it really liked it
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,
Jan 25, 2011 Colleen rated it really liked it
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
I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book through Goodreads Giveaways (although the edition I received was not the one noted in the giveaway, so I've amended this review to fit the actual edition that arrived.)

I liked reading this compact and carefully-written novel. I found it stoic in pace and almost stern in feeling, which I suppose is apt for a mystery about nuns! It wasn't 'slow' per se, but despite the events in the book being innately dramatic it lacked any real sense of urgency or, w
Jan 02, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
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
Oct 21, 2012 Karin rated it liked it
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
May 29, 2011 Anna rated it it was amazing
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
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Panos Karnezis 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. His first book, Little Infamies (2002), was a collection of connected short stories set in a nameless Greek village. His second book, The Maze (2004), a novel set in Anatolia in 1922, was shortlisted for t ...more
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