Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Testament of Mary, by Colm Toibin

Why I chose it: shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize

Podcasts: Guardian Books

Brow: Upper middle if you aren't religious

Summary: As Mary, mother of Jesus, is approaching the end of her life in hiding, two rude strangers appear on her doorstep and demand to interview her about her son, which prompts flashbacks to her few scenes in the bible (Mary is much less prominent than the Catholic church might have you believe) and retells them from her point of view.

What I liked about it: Whether you're religious or not, and whether you believe she was actually a virgin when she got preggers or you think she was duped by a dude claiming to be an angel, Mary is an interesting character. Here she's the fully human mother of a son whose life is in danger due to his dangerous, anti-authoritarian message. She tries to save him and fails, and ends up in danger herself. Now she's alone, secretly anger and bitter towards the world, and exiled in Ephesus and being visited by two of her son's followers who are trying to reshape her memories.

What I didn't like about it: I'm not Toibin's biggest fan. I just don't like his writing as much as some of his contemporaries who are also often nominated for the Booker Prize. Luckily, this book is so short it hardly matters.

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