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The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

The Testament of Mary (2012)

by Colm Tóibín

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7117513,267 (3.62)1 / 198
Recently added bymiddlemarchhare, private library, wascanalib, Joanna.Conrad, achellerman1, Jodeneg



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Events in the life of Jesus (mainly from John's gospel) as recollected by his skeptical mother. The voice does not always convince, and I don't think Tóibín fully exploits the possibilities of his subject. Also, contrast between the colloquial English of Mary's dialogue and the King James English of Pilate and other characters is jarring and inexplicable. (Quibble: the word "enormity" is used on p. 77 where I believe "enormousness" is meant.) ( )
  middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
I have an interest in what I call "Biblical fan fiction" and I've read a bunch of it, from Kazantzakis to Moore. I was looking forward to this one, but I was a little disappointed. It seemed to be all style and little substance. Or maybe I got caught up in the stylized language and couldn't see into the story the author was trying to tell. There was some interesting stuff there, but too much was purposely left unsaid or suggested but not developed and I found those parts unsatisfying. ( )
  karenchase | Aug 20, 2015 |
Colm Tóibín's Booker-shortlisted novel is of a modest size but makes quite an impact. At its heart are questions of grief, loss and memory. A bereaved mother struggles to understand the senseless killing of her son, but at the same time she finds herself having to face the earnest questions of two of his friends, who are determined to spread word of what has happened. Yet they already claim to remember events in a very different way from Mary herself. It's a story about the conflict between memory and stories, and a woman's attempt to keep ownership of her own past before it alters out of all recognition. Beautifully-written, simple and very moving, it manages to be thought-provoking without being sensationalist.

For a full review, please see my blog.
http://theidlewoman.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-testament-of-mary-colm-toibin.htm... ( )
  Leander2010 | Aug 3, 2015 |
"When you say that he redeemed the world, I will say that it was not worth it"

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary presents 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. 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. They are her keepers, providing her with food and shelter and visiting her regularly. 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.

This woman who 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 a portrait so vivid and convincing that our image of Mary will be forever transformed.

Meryl Streep brings Tóibín's tour de force of imagination and language to unforgettable life with "simplicity, honesty, [and] a clarity that draws us into the emotional landscape of the book through the beauty of the writing," writes Charles Isherwood in the New York Times Book Review. "Streep has an impressive ability to crest the structurally intricate sentences Tóibín has fashioned, which sometimes have the flowing, rhythmic cadences of certain passages in the Bible itself,"

P)2013 Simon and Schuster Audio ( )
  jan.fleming | Feb 9, 2015 |
Poignant, heartbreaking, unsettling, and subtle. Well done Mr. Toibin. ( )
  Lucifey | Jan 10, 2015 |
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Colm Tóibín's mothers don't always behave as they should; they are often unpredictable, occasionally downright troublesome, prone to gusts of passion or rage or – worse – unnatural indifference. Rarely are they uncomplicated figures of placid, nurturing devotion; but they do make for fantastically involving fiction. In his 2006 short-story collection, Mothers and Sons, Tóibín brought us relationships that were often characterised by the way they inverted traditional roles. An entrepreneurial widow plots to escape to the anonymity of the big city, clashing with her son's determination to hold fast to their small-town life; another man slinks away from a crowded pub rather than be spotted by the celebrated mother who has absented herself from his life; in "A Long Winter", a magnificent extended piece set in rural Spain, a young man is forced to keep house ineptly for his father after his alcoholic mother walks out into a snowstorm rather than be deprived of drink.....
added by marq | editThe Guardian, Alex Clark (Oct 26, 2012)
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For Loughlin Deegan and Denis Looby
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They appear more often now, both of them, and on every visit they seem more impatient with me and with the world.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Originally published in 2012 in Great Britain by Viking Penguin." T.p. verso
"Some of this novel was used as the basis for the play "Testament," performed at the Dublin Theatre Festival in October 2011." T.p. verso
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In a voice that is both tender and filled with rage, The Testament of Mary tells the story of a cataclysmic event which led to an overpowering grief. For Mary, her son has been lost to the world, and now, living in exile and in fear, she tries to piece together the memories of the event that led to her son's brutal death. To her he was a vulnerable figure, surrounded by men who could not be trusted, living in a time of turmoil and change.

As her life and her suffering begin to acquire the resonance of myth. Mary struggles to break the silence surrounding what she knows to have happened. In her effort to tell the truth in all its gnarled complexity, she slowly emerges as a figure of immense moral stature as well as a woman from history rendered now as fully human.
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A provocative imagining of the later years of the mother of Jesus finds her living a solitary existence in Ephesus years after her son's crucifixion and struggling with guilt, anger, and feelings that her son is not the son of God and that His sacrifice was not for a worthy cause.… (more)

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