Tóibín's weary Mary, sceptical and grudging, reads as far more true and real than the saintly perpetual virgin of legend. And Tóibín is a wonderful writer: as ever, his lyrical and moving prose is the real miracle. (Naomi Alderman Observer)
This is a flawless work, touching, moving and terrifying. (Linda Grant New Statesman)
There is a profound ache throughout this little character study, a steely determination coupled with an unbearable loss. Although it has some insightful things to say about religion and the period - the descriptions of the Crucifixion are visceral - it has a universal message about the nature of loss. (Stuart Kelly Scotland on Sunday)
This novel is the Virgin's version of the life of Christ. After a lifetime listening to everyone else's versions of that life, she is angry and frustrated because they are all questionable. (Irish Independent)
Toibin has created an impressive work of religious imagination...haunting, highly original. (TLS)
Beautifully crafted (The Times)
Fearsomely strange, deeply thoughtful (Guardian)
With deceptively modest prose, Tóibín presents the Virgin Mary's story as one of human loss rather than salvation. By doing so he gives us a Mary to identify with rather than venerate. (Metro)
Daring and very moving (John Banville "Books of the Year", Irish Times)
The Testament of Mary, a novella of absences and silences, achieves a shimmering power (Joseph O'Connor Irish Times, "Books of the Year")
Tóibín's take on the most famous mother in history ... is all too believable (Financial Times, "Books of the Year")
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2013
From the author of Brooklyn comes a short, powerful novel about one of the most famous mothers in history.
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 events 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.
Colm Toibin was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of six novels, including The Blackwater Lightship, The Master, both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award, and two collections of stories, Mothers and Sons and The Empty Family.