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The Testament of Mary (2012)

by Colm Tóibín

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1,20910112,233 (3.6)1 / 232
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.

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English (94)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (101)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
An extremely well-written piece; I can imagine how effective it was as a one-woman theater evening. Some of the scenes Tóibín imagines may offend the religious sensibilities of some, but this is fiction, not history. I was enriched by the emphasis on what a mother experienced as her gifted son went off, followed by a pack of grim, wild-eyed misfits, then standing at the foot of a cross to witness a suffering she had been helpless to prevent. Here and there the author makes historical mistakes that could have easily been avoided with a bit of research, for instance, on the burial customs of the time. It may seem like a quibble, but I think his narrative would have been stronger if he had taken the trouble to get them right. Nonetheless, a very good read. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
At the risk of revealing what a low-brow reader I am, I’d recommend Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal over this. Sure, it lacks the Booker-level prose style, but it made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me see the tragedy of the crucifixion as I never had before, while The Testament of Mary left me dry. It was hard to connect with this bitter, alienated Mary. ( )
1 vote Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
Scandalous and gut-wrenching. Meryl Streep narrates the audiobook of this one, and she is, of course, marvelous. By the time I was almost finished listening to disc one, though, I was so impatient to hear the rest of the story more quickly, that I checked out the book instead. Either way, Toibin's reimagining of Mary's life and psyche is unforgettable. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
This book is a narrative of Mary's story after the crucifixion. It does not follow the Biblical narrative; instead it tells the story of a Mary that fled from the cross, who despises John, and does not believe her son was the Son of God. I found the story more depressing than haunting. It was a sad tale and I found it too short to really get much of a glimpse into who Mary was. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
Couldn't ask for a better reader than Meryl Streep. This one really got me thinking. Told by Mary after Jesus death. Interesting point of view. Well written. Expertly performed. ( )
  njcur | Oct 23, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
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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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tóibín, Colmprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Streep, MerylNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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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.

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Book description
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.
Spain, a small mountain village. The younger brother leaves to do his military service. After an argument about the mother's consumption of alcohol, she runs away. The snow begins to fall during her escape to the mountain paths, on her way to her native village, and she never returns. The older son and the father knows that they have to wait until spring to find her dead body.
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