New York Times Notable Book Review: The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín


2012 Notable Book Score 3/100

Something called The Catholic World Report had this to say in a byline about this book: “Colm Tóibín’s book won’t tell you anything about Mary. It will tell you plenty about its very sad and very angry author.” 

Tóibín’s Mary is definitely not your average Mary.  There is bitterness, fear, and deep regret.  Her son was the Messiah, some say predicted by the prophets, and she doesn’t think it was worth it. Instead of the ancient God of Israel, Mary finds comfort in Artemis, the many-breasted Greek God of fertility.  Late in her life, near the time that she could taste her own death, Mary was becoming a polytheist.  

She loved her son Jesus and craved to be around him.  But, Jesus, the radical son, always had other plans, plans she didn’t quite get.  

My son gathered misfits, although he himself, despite everything was not a misfit, he could have done anything….  he was grateful, good-mannered, intelligent.  And he used all of it.  I said, so he could lead a group of men who trusted him from place to place. I have no time for misfits….

I probably owe this book–a novella really–a rereading. But if I am going to get through my 100 book reviews I probably won’t get to it anytime soon.  Before it became a novella, the Testament of Mary was a one women play.  I hope I get to see it in Indy sometime. 




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