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The Testament of Mary Audio CD – Audiobook, 19 Aug 2013

344 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: AudioGO Limited (10 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471362434
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471362439
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 1.5 x 14.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (344 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 629,421 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")

Finely written (Spectator 'Books of the Year')

Channels the memories of the Virgin Mary into a subversive tour de force of economy and

lacerating style

(Roy Foster TLS 'Books of the Year')

Stands out for its bold conception and blazingly brilliant execution (Claire Harman TLS 'Books of the Year')

A miniature masterpiece (Marina Warner TLS 'Books of the Year')

The miracles are real, but unsettling and sinister; Toibin's writing can be stunning beautiful; another should-have from this year's Booker shortlist (Kate Saunders The Times 'Books of the Year')

Toibin's short, powerful book offers itself up as an additional gospel (Gaby Wood Telegraph 'Books of the Year') --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of six other 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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 38 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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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Póló on 30 Sept. 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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75 of 86 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 Susan Glazier on 21 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Why is it we never consider what it must have been like for Mary, during the events that led up to the crucifixion and during the crucifixion itself? It must have been the most terrifying and devastating experience - seeing at first-hand her son sowing the seeds of his own destruction and then, close up, seeing him endure the most horrific death. How could her own life have not been destroyed by that? This short book deals with these questions and sets Mary in the context of the police state of the time, surrounded by spies, informers, betrayers and supporters. To survive she had to carefully consider her every move and rely on her intuition. It also deals with the likely gloss of the official versions of the crucifixion in the gospels: In this book the rhetoric and the reality are far apart. So it's a really interesting perspective on a story we know so well and usually take as given - it prompts our thought and reflection. The problem for me was that although I loved the concepts and structure, I did not emotionally connect with the narrative voice of Mary herself, and in this sense this potentially very powerful book was disappointing. I have never read anything by Colm Toibin before, so I am not sure how well he usually writes in a women's voice or whether he has ever narrated as a woman before - somehow in this book he didn't quite pull it off.
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