- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (February 4, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451692382
- ISBN-13: 978-1451692389
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 500 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Testament of Mary: A Novel Paperback – February 4, 2014
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“Tóibín is at his lyrical best in The Testament of Mary, a beautiful and daring work…it takes its power from the surprises of its language, its almost shocking characterization, its austere refusal of consolation.” (Mary Gordon The New York Times Book Review)
“[An] exquisite novella…Tóibín gives a familiar story startling intimacy.” (The New Yorker)
“A heartfelt, powerful work.” (Sam Sacks The Wall Street Journal)
“Dramatic and poetic…A powerful, devastating story.” (Ron Charles The Washington Post)
“Lovely, understated and powerfully sad, The Testament of Mary finally gives the mother of Jesus a chance to speak. And, given that chance, she throws aside the blue veil of the Madonna to become wholly, gloriously human.” (Annalisa Quinn NPR)
“Mary—silent, obedient, observant—has echoed down two millennia, cementing a potent ideal in the Western imagination. Now the masterful Irish writer Colm Tóibín puts a jackhammer to the cozy, safe, Christmas-card version in The Testament of Mary.” (Karen R. Long Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“A slim, grave, exquisitely emotional book…The Testament of Mary is a spellbinding, surprisingly reverent book.” (Jeff Giles Entertainment Weekly)
“Tóibín applies a Joycean ruthlessness…Imagining himself into Mary’s interior life is his boldest jump yet.” (Hermione Lee The New York Review of Books)
“Tóibín’s intimate approach make Mary feel more credible and human…The result, The Testament of Mary, feels true.” (Claire Cameron The Millions)
“Tóibín suffuses the story with a sense of mystery and makes the reader feel (perhaps as never before) the tragedy of the crucifixion.” (Macy Halford Buzzfeed)
About the Author
Colm Tóibín is the author of nine novels, including The Blackwater Lightship; The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary; and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections. He is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. Three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.
Top customer reviews
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As a book, THE TESTAMENT OF MARY is really quite interesting. Although she does not explicitly come out and say so, one is left with the distinct impression that Mary is not a believer that her son is the son of God sent to save us sinners of the world. She is dismissive if not hostile to her son’s followers (misfits, twitchers, those who cannot even look at a woman) who come by to press her for details, and tells of her son’s claims with incredulity.
Nonetheless, despite her son being the leader of such misfits, she is absorbed in relentless emotional pain over her son’s execution and the manner in which it came about. In this, Mary’s internal world, Toibin displays an exceptional skill as a writer, expressing emotions so deep as to capture the heart of the reader. Whatever one’s take about Christianity, we can all understand and feel for the pain of a mother watching her son slowly and inexorably walking towards his own death, all the while being utterly unable to either stop it or even slow its pace.
What is interesting about THE TESTAMENT OF MARY is that the religious questions are not clarified. The accounts of her son turning water into wine and, more so, raising Lazarus from the dead, seem to have been well verified (within the book, that is). If not miracles, then what were these? In response to being told that her son’s crucifixion saved the world, Mary does not respond by denying it, but instead by declaring that it was not worth it. It is within these ambiguities that Mary’s pain comes through.
Some simply will not read this because it does not comport with traditional Christianity. I mean no disrespect to such people, and they are free to read or not read whatever they choose. If you are interested, however, in a common story being presented from a totally different perspective, this book may be for you.
His prose as always soars, but, more so than in his other work, it seems more targeted here. There is no waste in this book, and its brooding intensity demands a reader's focus, with no room to wander down tangents or irrelevancies. Toibin assumes the reader's basic knowledge and understanding of Mary's place in the theological hierarchy, so her character is presented fully formed, with little development. She is who she is, and Toibin shows us a new view that is at once provocative, reasonable and compelling. The Testament of Mary is a masterful work.
Most recent customer reviews
This book has upset many readers because it does not tally with the Gospel story and the general...Read more