- Paperback: 314 pages
- Publisher: Shakenoak Press; 2nd Revised ed. edition (May 23, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 099282284X
- ISBN-13: 978-0992822842
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Testament of Mariam 2nd Revised ed. Edition
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She writes with passion and the book, her fourth, is shot through with brilliant description and scholarship...[it] is a timely reminder of the harsh realities, and the daily humiliations, of the Roman occupation of First Century Israel. You can almost smell the dust and blood. --Peter Rhodes, Express and Star, England, December 10, 2009
Mixing the known with the fictional and making the resulting story not only believable and compelling but also with an integrity all its own is no mean feat. But in her latest novel, writer and academic Ann Swinfen has taken what has often been called the greatest story ever told...and given it a place, a context in history and in the human heart that opens up a new world of thought-provoking story-telling. The Testament of Mariam is set in the distant world of the first century, in lands that...still do exist, and is a tale peopled by real figures and their fictional counterparts whose lives and times come together to create a compelling vision of what was and what might have been. It also, in its scope and vision, holds up a mirror to the present day and the continuing turbulence of a world in almost continuous transition...Her writing...[paints] an amazingly detailed and vibrant picture of flesh and blood human beings, not only the symbols many of them have become...but real and believable and understandable. --Helen Brown, Courier and Advertiser, Scotland, December 18, 2009 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Ann Swinfen spent her childhood partly in England and partly on the east coast of America. She was educated at Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Classics and Mathematics and married a fellow undergraduate, the historian David Swinfen. While bringing up their five children and studying for a postgraduate MSc in Mathematics and a BA and PhD in English Literature, she had a variety of jobs, including university lecturer, translator, freelance journalist and software designer. She served for nine years on the governing council of the Open University and for five years worked as a manager and editor in the technical author division of an international computer company, but gave up her full-time job to concentrate on her writing, while continuing part-time university teaching. In 1995 she founded Dundee Book Events, a voluntary organisation promoting books and authors to the general public. Her first three novels, The Anniversary, The Travellers, and A Running Tide, all with a contemporary setting but also an historical resonance, were published by Random House, with translations into Dutch and German. The Testament of Mariam marks something of a departure. Set in the first century, it recounts, from an unusual perspective, one of the most famous and yet ambiguous stories in human history. At the same time it explores life under a foreign occupying force, in lands still torn by conflict to this day. Her second historical novel, Flood, is set in the fenlands of East Anglia during the seventeenth century, where the local people fought desperately to save their land from greedy and unscrupulous speculators. Currently she is working on a series set in late sixteenth century London, featuring a young Marrano physician who is recruited as a code-breaker and spy in Walsingham’s secret service. The first book in the series is The Secret World of Christoval Alvarez. She now lives in Broughty Ferry, on the northeast coast of Scotland, with her husband, formerly vice-principal of the University of Dundee, a cocker spaniel, and two Maine coon cats. http://www.annswinfen.com
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Top customer reviews
Firstly, the positives. The story is very well-written and edited as is usual with this author, so no surprises there. The main characters are well-developed; the minor characters more 'broad brush strokes' than fine detail. As the book title says, this is the testament of Mariam so it is written in the first-person and this immediately personalises the story as we live her life with her. Of course the reader knows the outcome of one part of her life as it is obvious from the book synopsis. One of Ms Swinfen's many talents is the beauty of her prose, and her descriptions of everyday life in a little village in Roman Judaea are so realistic I can almost feel the dust and smell the olive trees. I am part of the everyday hard work that is inevitable in a peasant village and also part of the big celebrations that are so important because of the chance for everyone to throw off their cares for a while and enjoy the occasion.
I travel with Mariam, Yeshua and Yehuda as they walk the length and breadth of their homeland. I see the Lake of Gennesaret for the first time, and the lush, fertile valley that surrounds the town of Jericho, and finally I see the Holy City of Jerusalem. I meet people, many people, some of whom become friends and some who remain strangers, rich people, poor people, nice people, others not. I feel tired, my feet hurt; I harden up and keep up with the others, and feel relieved when we stay in one place for a while and I can rest my body, if not my mind.
As an old woman, Mariam's accounts of her life in Gaul are also realistic. Her relationship with her family is very moving and we find out how she came to be there and how she has spent the last thirty or so years. I really enjoy these sections set in Gaul, probably more so than the sections in Judah. I am fascinated with the detail given to people and places, both in Judah and in Gaul, a real strength in Ms Swinfen's writing.
Secondly, the negatives. I am REALLY uncomfortable with the way the author portrays Yeshua. Only one negative but as Yeshua is the major part of the story, it is a very big negative.
I do not remember who suggested I read this book, but I am so very glad they did.
Ms. Swinfen tells the story of Mariam and her oldest brother, Yeshua, beginning with Mariam as a small child until Mariam’s death. Along the way, we learn about Yeshua and his ministry in Judea/Palestine/Israel.
This is a fascinating story, which I did not want to end.
Carefully researched details of time, place, culture, and daily life are fascinating, and provide a strong sense of immediacy, of living in the moment, adding greatly to the reader's understanding of happenings, as love, loyalty and friendship are tested to their very limits.
This is narrative writing at its best--captivating from the first sentence. The words flow with grace, beauty, and exquisite imagery as Mariam's thoughts and emotions from childhood to old age are tenderly and convincingly wrought in prose that is often poetic and crafted to perfection. Mariam's story draws the reader to her with its momentum towards fresh and plausible explanations, shedding light on a centuries-old puzzle.
As Miriam nears the end of her life far from her native land, she reviews her early years in Judea, where determined loyalty to family and friends pulled her into events that changed the history of the world. Swinfen's unique interpretation of these events is so plausible, so logical, that the reader is forced to consider them and, perhaps, to see the early years of Christianity in a new light.
The Testament of Miriam is a book to mull over, to read again, and to embrace for its fine writing as well as its clever and thought-provoking story. It is a book to treasure.