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Editor reviews

Praise for The Testament of Mary:

"This is a short book, but it is as dense as a diamond. It is as tragic as a Spanish pieta, but it is completely heretical...Tóibín maintains all the dignity of Mary without subscribing to the myths that have accumulated around her" (Edmund White, Irish Times)"A beautiful and daring work...it takes its power from the surprise of its language, its almost shocking characterization" (Mary Gordon, New York Times)

Summary

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013

The unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of The Testament of Mary, the powerful new novel by Colm Tóibín, read by Meryl Streep.

From the author of Brooklyn, in a voice that is both tender and filled with rage, The Testament of Mary tells the story of a cataclysmic event which led to an overpowering grief. 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.

As her life and her suffering begin to acquire the resonance of myth, Mary struggles to break the silence surrounding what she knows to have happened. In her effort to tell the truth in all its gnarled complexity, she slowly emerges as a figure of immense moral stature as well as a woman from history rendered now as fully human.

Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary is the moving story of the Virgin Mary, told by a novelist famous for writing brilliantly about the family.

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland, in 1955. He is the author of six 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.

©2014 Penguin Books Limited (P)2014 Penguin Books Limited

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Beautiful writing, beautifully read

If you could sum up The Testament of Mary in three words, what would they be?

Poetic, painful, important

What did you like best about this story?

The Testament of Mary invites the reader to see the events of the New Testament through the eyes of the woman at the centre of everything who is so often overlooked. As an atheist with an interest in theology, I expected to find the content interesting, knew that the writer was of an excellent quality and know that I really enjoy Meryl Streep's work (who doesn't?!) - yet I did not expect to feel so moved. This is a deeply personal story of woman who's narrative is, in so many ways, dictated by the men around her. I loved it.

Which character – as performed by Meryl Streep – was your favourite?

The story is told entirely from the perspective of Mary in the last few days of her life, looking back. Streep performs the part expertly.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, absolutely - though (perhaps particularly as this story is not a long one) I don't want to ruin anything. Mary's realisation that she is no longer autonomous in the remembering of her grief was really quite upsetting.

Any additional comments?

Whether you are religious or (like myself) rather decidedly not, this is a beautiful, moving, thought-provoking story that is well worth your time.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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no pause at the end

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

good book but there is literally NO PAUSE AT THE END between the soft, beautiful ending and the harsh, clangy Audible spoken note at the end that crashed in like an unwanted drunk uncle at a funeral at x10 the volume of the book.

i'm not even exaggerating when i say it has sort of ruined the whole experience of the book for me. how hard is it to leave a 10 second pause at the end

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Exceptional

Meryl Streep is completely brilliant. She IS Mary; her reading takes you to that whole other world. The 'story', tho world-known, is recognisable but with an incredible whole other take on it - the mother, the woman......

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing!

This is the second Colm Toibin book (after Brooklyn) I have listened to here. The Testament of Mary gives a plausible historical account to some extent. Meryl Streep reads it superbly! Loved it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Imaginative treatment of amazing story

a trifle obscure at times but held the listener enthralled. graphic descriptions a trifle upsetting

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing

I found this very difficult to listen to. Nerys Streep sounded like she was being sarcastic & angry all the way through. Her tone was wearing & unrelenting. The story was very twisted and angry. Not at all enjoyable or life affirming.

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All Hail Meryl!

Like delicious poetry being read by the Queen herself. What an excellent, riveting account- creative and somehow suspenseful.

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Incredible

Colm Toibin & Meryl Mash-up! What a joy. Clever, beautiful and captivating. Just loved it.

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Boring

Did not get the point of this. It could have been much better without the Sunday school lesson.JK Rowling 'resurrection stone a much better idea

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  • uhhuhlex
  • Faringdon, Oxfordshire
  • 01-02-16

Not Toibin as you know him!

Where does The Testament of Mary rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I am quite familiar with Toibin's work - so I was glad to find this available. I'm afraid I didn't take to it as easily as I did to Brooklyn, Nora Webster and others. Part of that for me is the setting and context - it wasn't as enrapturing as his modern worlds.

I thought that Streep's narration was pretty good - confident and assured, although perhaps a little monotone. That may have been because there isn't a great deal of 'action' - except for the climax of the crucifixion.

If you’ve listened to books by Colm Tóibín before, how does this one compare?

The female-centred experience is definitely still a key focus. If you're looking for a different and new perspective on the canon Christianity - you will enjoy this.