The Testament of Mary

3.8 out of 5 stars 372 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 3 hours and 6 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: AudioGO Ltd
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 10 Sept. 2013
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EZTK2GE

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
What a shame! This novella is far below the par for the quiet master Toibin, though that still leaves him better than the vast majority of his literary contemporaries.

Toibin portrays Galilean Mary as a simple mother, completely dismissive of son's visionary claims (though she witnesses some of his miracles). She is fatalistically aware that the prosaic truth which she knows will be totally distorted by his crazy, dishonest disciples. In the current era, this is a conventional type of debunking. That wouldn't matter if it had been much better realised.

The problem for me is that the dominant emotion, from the first paragraph to the last, is fear. There is no tenderness, love or any sense of connection between Mary and her son - or anyone else, apart from a low key friendship with Martha and Mary. This leads to some stilted scenes, such as when Mary tries to persuade her son - his name is never mentioned, to telling effect - to flee from Cana to hide in her house. The absence of dialogue between the two is deliberate but, I think, a cop-out. No insights or depth of personality colour the blank non-exchange.

Mary comes across as a passive, emotionally distant, small-town mother, who is nevertheless preternaturally aware of how her whole culture is dominated by oppressive men. Her voice is consistent and quietly affecting - but she is not interesting and is not remotely Jewish. She seems to be modeled on an old-fashioned Irish mother, mutely suffering in the name of something she does not understand.

In one of several highly unlikely twists, Toibin has Mary buy a statue of the Roman Goddess Artemis, to whom she prays.
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