Synopses & Reviews
“Tóibín is at his lyrical best in this beautiful and daring work” (The New York Times Book Review
) that portrays Mary as a solitary older woman still seeking to understand the events that become the narrative of the New Testament and the foundation of Christianity — shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.
In the ancient town of Ephesus, Mary lives alone, years after her son’s crucifixion. She has no interest in collaborating with the authors of the Gospel who are her keepers. She does not agree that her son is the Son of God; nor that his death was “worth it”; nor that the “group of misfits he gathered around him, men who could not look a woman in the eye,” were holy disciples.
Mary judges herself ruthlessly (she did not stay at the foot of the Cross until her son died — she fled, to save herself), and her judgment of others is equally harsh. In Tóibín’s stunning story, this woman whom we know from centuries of paintings and scripture as the docile, loving, silent, long-suffering, obedient, worshipful mother of Christ becomes a tragic heroine with the relentless eloquence of Electra or Medea or Antigone. In this “exquisite novella…Tóibín gives a familiar story startling intimacy” (The New Yorker) and shows us Mary as she “throws aside the blue veil of the Madonna to become wholly, gloriously human” (NPR Books).
"A stunning interpretation that is as beautiful in its presentation as it is provocative in its intention."
"[A] poignant reimagining of the last days of Christ."
"[The Testament of Mary] builds to a provocative climax, one that is as spiritually profound as its prose is plainspoken....A work suffused with mystery and wonder."
"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."
The New York Times Book Review
"[An] exquisite novella...Tóibín gives a familiar story startling intimacy."
The New Yorker
"Dramatic and poetic....A powerful, devastating story."
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."
"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."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Colm Tóibín is the author of seven novels, including The Blackwater Lightship; The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; and The Testament of Mary, as well as two story collections. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.