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.
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" (Edmund White, Irish Times). "Depicting the harrowing losses and evasions that can go on between mothers and sons...Toibin creates a reversed Pieta: he holds the mother in his arms." (Independent). "A beautiful and daring work...it takes its power from the surprise of its language, its almost shocking characterization." (Mary Gordon, New York Times).
Penguin Books Ltd
Number of Pages
Beguiling and deeply intelligent...In a single passage - and in a rendition, furthermore, of one of the most famous passages of western literature - Toibin shows how the telling and the details are all-important. -- Robert Collins Sunday Times Toibin's weary Mary, sceptical and grudging, reads as far more true and real than the saintly perpetual virgin of legend. And Toibin 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, Toibin 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" Toibin'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'