The Testament of Mary

Publisher: Emblem Editions
In the ancient town of Ephesus, Mary lives alone, years after her son's crucifixion. She has no interest in collaborating with the authors of the Gospel -- her keepers, who provide her with food and shelter and visit her regularly. She does not agree that her son is the Son of God; nor that his death was "worth it;" nor that the "group of misfits he gathered around him, men who could not look a woman in the eye," were holy disciples. Mary judges herself ruthlessly (she did not stay at the foot of the Cross until her son died -- she fled, to save herself), and is equally harsh on her judgement of others. This woman who we know from centuries of paintings and scripture as the docile, loving, silent, long-suffering, obedient, worshipful mother of Christ becomes a tragic heroine with the relentless eloquence of Electra or Medea or Antigone. Tóibín's tour de force of imagination and language is a portrait so vivid and convincing that our image of Mary will be forever transformed.


“An exquisite novella.”
The New Yorker
“A monumental achievement…. A tender, soul-rending exploration of a mother’s mourning; a searing, stunning work.”
The Independent (U.K.)
“A gentle, thoughtful reimagining of Mary’s own experience of her life. . . . An important and persuasive book.”
The Guardian
“Flawless … touching, moving and terrifying.”
New Statesman
“A beautiful and daring work.”
New York Times Book Review
“Tóibín has created an impressive work of religious imagination…. Haunting, highly original.” —  Times Literary Supplement
“A heartfelt, powerful work.” —Wall Street Journal
“Dramatic and poetic… A powerful, devastating story.”
Washington Post
“Beautifully crafted.”
The Times