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The Convent


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A major new novel from one of our finest young writers, author of Little Infamies and The Maze

About the Author

Panos Karnezis was born in Greece in 1967 and came to England in 1992. He studied engineering at Oxford and worked in industry before starting to write in English. He studied for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of Little Infamies, a collection of connected short stories set in a nameless Greek village, and two previous novels; The Maze, shortlisted for the 2004 Whitbread First Novel Award and The Birthday Party. Panos Karnezis lives in London.


Sister Maria Ines is the mother superior of only six nuns who remain in the remote convent of Our Lady of Mercy, high in the mountains of Spain in the 1920s. One morning, a nun discovers a newborn baby left on the convent doorstep. Sister Maria Ines regards this as a miracle and as God's reward to her for spending decades atoning for a grievous sin in her youth. She intends to keep the infant and devotes herself completely to the child, though she soon comes into conflict with the bishop and some of the other nuns. The reader may readily figure out the baby's mysterious parentage, but the mother superior persists in her belief in the miraculous, setting the stage for tragedy. Verdict Greek-born Karnezis, who now lives in London and whose The Maze was shortlisted for the Whitbread, has created a very readable and convincing tale of how years of living in near-isolation while brooding over past mistakes may lead to madness, especially in a sensitive soul in a repressed society.-Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Cross an Almodovar-esque plot with lean Hemingway prose, and you get the atmospheric latest from Karnezis (The Maze), about an infant boy abandoned on the steps of a convent. The boy is quickly adopted by the Mother Superior, Sister Maria Ines, who runs the convent with a blend of intense devotion and heterodoxy; she has a painful secret in her past and believes the boy is a sign of God's infinite mercy. Her intense desire to keep the child at the convent, rather than send him to an orphanage in town, increasingly pits her against the convent's other inhabitants, especially Sister Ana, an ambitious nun much aggrieved by perceived slights. When Ana finds a bloodstained cloth buried on the convent's grounds and becomes convinced "that the convent was visited by evil," she sets herself to expelling the devil, with grave consequences for all. The sense of slow-burning doom, rendered in deceptively simple prose, culminates in a series of startling revelations. Even when the disclosure strains credibility, the novel's concern with the claims the past makes on the present makes the emotional investment it asks for well worth it. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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