The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín (Scribner, 2012, 81pp.)
A very bitter, cynical portrayal of Mary’s reflections on the Crucifixion twenty years after the event, as written by formerly Catholic author Colm Tóibín. At 81 pages long, there are a lot of things that this book isn’t. It’s not quite an exploration of Mary and Jesus’s relationship. For that, the story would need to be much longer. Nor is it a work of great beauty. It’s a broody little parable that has only a few things to say, and then says them. End of story. Do not expect the Pietà, and do not expect The Passion of the Christ. There’s no poignant scene of Mary cradling the body of her dead son after his demise. In fact, we get the impression that she doesn’t believe in her son’s divinity any more than the next atheist. That said, Tóibín’s Mary is also a very human rendition of the mother of Christ. Hers is a story that chronicles a widow’s lonely later years, one that’s based more in domesticity and than religiosity. It’s short, it’s simple, it’s depressing, and it’s slightly thought-provoking. Recommended for the reader who doesn’t mind a somewhat plain, not exactly unorthodox version of Biblical events.
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