Friday, 20 May 2011
The Convent by Panos Karnezis
It is quite a dark tale. The arrival of a baby is usually such a happy event, but this child is the innocent cause of a schism in the group. The Mother Superior, Sister Maria Ines, immediately takes charge of the him. She sees him as a reward for her years of sacrifice to the convent. She became a nun to atone for something in her past which she saw as a great sin. The baby is a signal to her that God has forgiven her. She guards him jealously, refusing to let the other women help take care of him.
Opposing Sister Maria Ines is Sister Ana. Ana is a clever and ambitious woman. She longs for other people to recognise her talents and their failure to do so has made her bitter. She sees the arrival of the child as the work of the devil.
The atmosphere at the convent becomes more fevered and madness threatens. I found it a very tense novel. The baby triggers the unravelling of the community. Secrets are uncovered and tragedy looms.