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The Testament of Mariam Paperback – 9 Nov 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: YouWriteOn (9 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849234892
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849234894
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,501,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

www.annswinfen.com
Podcast on The Testament of Mariam here: bit.ly/1qZnEfC

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 late sixteenth century series, 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, the second is The Enterprise of England, and the third is The Portuguese Affair.

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.


Product Description

Review

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 & Star, 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 & Advertiser, December 18 2009

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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carol Patterson on 20 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
The Testament of Mariam by Ann Swinfen is a brilliantly imagined first person account of New Testament events in which the narrator offers a uniquely loving eye-witness view of familiar biblical events as they unfold. Mariam's "testament" comes from the perspective of unwavering love forged in childhood--a love of such depth and power in the telling that her words and thoughts are not only moving but very credible.
Carefully researched details of time, place, culture, and daily life are fascinating, providing 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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. S. M. Wood on 21 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had a little difficulty in obtaining a copy of this book,none of my local bookshops had it in stock,but Amazon came to the rescue!I admit I was curious as to how the author, in writing about a very human Yeshua (Jesus), would deal with Biblical events such as the miracles.But it all fell wonderfully,believably,into place.I had read about Jesus allegedly spending time with the Essene community of Qumran where he would have learned medical skills - does this mean the curing of the sick,the blind,the leper were acts of a physician,not miracles? - you decide.
As the dying Mariam,sister of Jesus,goes back over past events in the faroff Galilee where she grew up in a large family,you feel that you are living this well-loved story from a totally different perspective,but that is not to say that you are ever asked to abandon your faith in Jesus the Son of God.It is just that you see Him as a man who has fears,doubts and misgivings,which only serves to make His final sacrifice more precious.The novel resonates with love,the love Mariam has for a brother she has always known to be special,the love of Yehuda(Judas) for his friend (I have always believed that the Betrayal was not of Judas' design) and Yehuda's love for Mariam,the love of the woman they called The Magdalene,and the love of the disciples for their Master,and of course,the love above all other of Jesus for mankind.
The author herself says that this book is primarily a novel,which it is,and it is not,therefore in any way 'preachy' but the research has clearly been very well done.
This is the first work I have read by Ann Swinfen and it has inspired me to seek out her other novels.
I enjoyed The Testament of Mariam immensely and would certainly recommend it to other readers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christine Findlay on 3 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
This gripping narrative is based on the premise that Yeshûa (Jesus) had a sister, Mariam, a rebellious, fiercely independent and devoted sibling.
In a series of flashbacks, Mariam, now an elderly and dying woman, tells the story of her growing up with her brother, her decision to follow him on his mission and her final witnessing of his death.
It is an extraordinary story operating on both intimately personal and universal levels.
The author's authentic creation of settings, together with her description of details of day to day life in first century, Roman occupied Judah, bear witness to scrupulous research.
Deceptively simple and direct in style, the narrative has the capacity to engage the reader's deepest emotions. A thought provoking and truly absorbing read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By happy customer on 4 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
Telling a story that's already familiar to most of us - in this case the life of Jesus- is a challenge for any writer. However, Ann Swinfen offers a different level of engagement with events by viewing them through the eyes of Mariam, a fictional sister of Jesus. The world Mariam inhabits is evoked in utterly convincing detail which can only be the result of a prodigious amount of research though it's woven so skilfully into the narrative that that thought never consciously occurs. You simply can't believe that the writer hasn't been there and done that!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SJATurney on 28 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback
I’d been intrigued by this book for some time. I had spoken to Ann via social media, where I had been introduced to her by a friend, and of the numerous books Ann has released, this one particularly piqued my interest early on. And so I bought it and added it to my reading list, awaiting the time when I had a free week or so in my reading schedule.

The story? The story is simple. When the Emperor Constantine and his various bishops sat in their council chamber and decided what stories of the Christian sect would go into the official Bible, they selected many bits and pieces, letters and visions and so forth, but they chose only four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But a gospel is simply a memoir by one of the people who knew Jesus, and so with those four they included, think on how many gospels they discarded, including the ones of the other disciples. I have oft heard of various apocryphal gospels and been intrigued as to what other views of the figure ‘Jesus’ they might have given us.

Well, the Testament of Mariam is a fictional gospel. Narrated by the ageing matriarch of a farming family in Gallia Narbonensis, it soon becomes clear that this old woman who now lives in a Roman world with a family and farm of her own was once a very different person, living an impoverished life in Gallilee with a sizeable family, one of whom was destined to change the world.

For this is a tale of Jesus (Yeshua in his own tongue) from his youth to his last days, told by a sister history does not document. Mariam gives us a view of the Jesus with whom anyone brought up in the Christian world is familiar, but with a refreshing new angle.
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