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The Testament of Mary Audio CD – Audiobook, 10 Sep 2013

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: AudioGO Limited (10 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471362434
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471362439
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 1.5 x 14.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (300 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 450,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy in 1955. He is the author of eight novels including Blackwater Lightship, The Master and The Testament of Mary, all three of which were nominated for the Booker Prize, with The Master also winning the IMPAC Award, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. His most recent novel is Nora Webster. He lives in Dublin.

Product Description


Beguiling and deeply intelligent...In a single passage - and in a rendition, furthermore, of one of the most famous passages of western literature - Tóibín shows how the telling and the details are all-important. (Robert Collins Sunday Times)

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") --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of five other novels, including The Blackwater Lightship and The Master, both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and a collection of stories, Mothers and Sons. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Mme Suzanne Lageard on 23 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a short novel, and for me every single word is as it should be. I cannot praise this book highly enough; the voice of Mary is so clear, so profoundly truthful, and the story she tells, known and unknown, is compelling in every way. I read this book in a day, and I would have read it in one sitting if I didn't have coursework to do; still, I could barely put it down. The narrative is soft I felt, despite the cruelty, the brutality. In my mind there were pictures of the heat and the ochre hills and the olive trees, muted and yet there is also the pain that Mary feels, and it is real. There are passages which we have heard versions of, and the pure pleasure of matching Mary's memory to the other stories we've been told, to find out how she saw it, experienced.
I strongly recommend this book, as it is a beautiful read.
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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Póló on 30 Sep 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a subversive book which would have had its author burned at the stake in those times when the Church exercised serious temporal power.

It consists of some reflections by Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she approaches death in a foreign land.

She touches on Jesus's happy boyhood, how he then matured and eventually turned into a bit of a cold fish with delusions of divinity. She reports on some of his miracles third hand. The only one at which she was present was the water to wine at Cana, and she seems to harbour some doubts about this. The raising of Lazarus, assuming it happened, turned out to be a bad joke. She didn't hang around for the end of the crucifixion saga as she was in fear of her life. So no pietà. And the guys, who are now harassing her for stories from the past, seem to be writing major works of fiction to which they expect her to add her name.

All in all a serious debunking job.

But it is refreshing in its sadness and depression as it makes you think. You begin to wonder what was it really like, particularly when you start to think of people as real people rather than the sanitised and unreflective versions which have been handed down to some of us.

This Mary is at the other end of the spectrum from the Italian breastless plaster-cast statues that were found in most of the churches of my youth.

She is a poor tortured soul, looking forward to relief from this mortal coil. But she is still a loving mother and has a serious backbone made of steel which is not paraded unnecessarily.

A short, well written, provocative book. I'm currently on my second read.
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71 of 81 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This short novella is an amazingly powerful account of a mother's love and grief for her son. The fact that that son happens to be, perhaps, the Son of God is secondary. Beautifully written and with some wonderful, often poetic, imagery, Tóibín shows us Mary as a woman who lives each day with guilt and pain that she couldn't stop the events that led her son to the cruel martyrdom of the cross.

As Jesus' followers encourage her to embellish her story to tie in with the legend they are beginning to create, Mary feels that she must tell, even if only once, the true story of her involvement in these momentous events. We see her cynicism and doubt about the miracles attributed to her son; her dislike, contempt even, for those followers who seem intent on feeding his ego, who seem to be provoking his martyrdom to serve their own ends. And most of all we come to understand and almost to share her guilt and fear.

Emotional, thought-provoking, at points harrowing, this book packs more punch in its 104 pages than most full-length novels. Its very shortness emphasises Mary's driven urgency to tell her tale before her chance is gone. Despite the subject matter, it will appeal to lovers of great writing of any faith or none - this story is first and foremost about humanity. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GreenInk on 6 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback
A novella of great power, "The Testament of Mary" is a mother's lament for her lost son. He happens to be the self-styled Son of God who bestrides Galilee carrying out miracles to the delight of his followers and the scepticism of his mother, but this is about the searing loss of a mother who, in her son's final moments of pain and humiliation, sees only the little boy she held in her arms. Forced to live out her days in exile, Mary resists the entreaties of 2 unnamed disciples to tell the story of her son's life so as to tie in with their versions; remaining obdurate in the telling of her "true" version of familiar New Testament tales and in particular the final days leading to the crucifixion. She may not have much time for the disciples and their message, but Mary doesn't spare herself from criticism in saving her own skin, adding to the anger and regret she is experiencing as she contemplates her own final days.

Written in a beautiful lyrical style which gives added power to the novella's contents, this is a story touchingly told of the private devastation caused by the most public of deaths.
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51 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Clothilde on 24 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this after reading it was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and because the blurb intrigued me. Unfortunately it was very disappointing.

Like the author, I am a lapsed Catholic and I greatly enjoyed Phillip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. Both books share the concept that Christ was a fascinating man, but just that - a man - and Christianity is based on embellishments to his story made by his followers. This concept isn't responsible for the negative review.

I did not enjoy Toibin's writing style at all and found myself frequently having to repeat passages (I'd say 'paragraphs' but there are irritatingly few) as my mind had wandered elsewhere. Mary is not a very sympathetic character, and the fact she questions her son's divine status despite him raising a man from the dead after four days isn't convincing. Her voice belongs to the enlightened and unsuperstitious 21st century, not Palestine, 20AD. Her tone is relentlessly morbid and gloomy, as well it might be, given her horrific loss, but this does not make for an engaging narrator.

We also do not get to know Christ at all. He is simply not fleshed out enough, and when he is mentioned comes across as a pompous fool. No loving, grieving mother would describe her son in such a way. There is no hint of the incredible charisma he must have had to inspire such a frenzied following. Toibin has him cruelly dismissing his mother while at the same time 'radiating incredible light'. It is not legitimate.

There are strong points. The crucifixion is well imagined - rather too well, if you are squeamish - and Christ's reaction to what he is undergoing is far more plausible than the quiet, serene death the New Testament would have us believe.
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