The Testament of Mary

The Testament of Mary

3.63 (15,419 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 6-11 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.



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

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.

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...Toibin maintains all the dignity of Mary without subscribing to the myths that have accumulated around her' Edmund White, Irish Times

'Depicting the harrowing losses and evasions that can go on between mothers and sons...Toibin creates a reversed Pieta: he holds the mother in his arms' Independent

'A beautiful and daring takes its power from the surprise of its language, its almost shocking characterization' Mary Gordon, New York Times
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 112 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 6mm | 85g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 9780241962978
  • 17,230

Review Text

Beguiling and deeply intelligent...In a single passage - and in a rendition, furthermore, of one of the most famous passages of western literature - Tóibín shows how the telling and the details are all-important. Robert Collins Sunday Times
show more

Review quote

Beguiling and deeply intelligent...In a single passage - and in a rendition, furthermore, of one of the most famous passages of western literature - Toibin shows how the telling and the details are all-important. -- Robert Collins * Sunday Times * Toibin's weary Mary, sceptical and grudging, reads as far more true and real than the saintly perpetual virgin of legend. And Toibin is a wonderful writer: as ever, his lyrical and moving prose is the real miracle. -- Naomi Alderman * Observer * This is a flawless work, touching, moving and terrifying. -- Linda Grant * New Statesman * There is a profound ache throughout this little character study, a steely determination coupled with an unbearable loss. Although it has some insightful things to say about religion and the period - the descriptions of the Crucifixion are visceral - it has a universal message about the nature of loss. -- Stuart Kelly * Scotland on Sunday * This novel is the Virgin's version of the life of Christ. After a lifetime listening to everyone else's versions of that life, she is angry and frustrated because they are all questionable. * Irish Independent * Toibin has created an impressive work of religious imagination...haunting, highly original. * TLS * Beautifully crafted * The Times * Fearsomely strange, deeply thoughtful * Guardian * With deceptively modest prose, Toibin presents the Virgin Mary's story as one of human loss rather than salvation. By doing so he gives us a Mary to identify with rather than venerate. * Metro * Daring and very moving -- John Banville * "Books of the Year", Irish Times * The Testament of Mary, a novella of absences and silences, achieves a shimmering power -- Joseph O'Connor * Irish Times, "Books of the Year" * Toibin's take on the most famous mother in history ... is all too believable * Financial Times, "Books of the Year" * Finely written * Spectator 'Books of the Year' * Channels the memories of the Virgin Mary into a subversive tour de force of economy and
lacerating style -- Roy Foster * TLS 'Books of the Year' * Stands out for its bold conception and blazingly brilliant execution -- Claire Harman * TLS 'Books of the Year' * A miniature masterpiece -- Marina Warner * TLS 'Books of the Year' * The miracles are real, but unsettling and sinister; Toibin's writing can be stunning beautiful; another should-have from this year's Booker shortlist -- Kate Saunders * The Times 'Books of the Year' * Toibin's short, powerful book offers itself up as an additional gospel -- Gaby Wood * Telegraph 'Books of the Year' *
show more

About Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy in 1955. He is the author of nine novels including The Master, Brooklyn, The Testament of Mary and Nora Webster and, most recently, House of Names. His work has been shortlisted for the Booker three times, won the Costa Novel Award and the Impac Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.
show more

Rating details

15,419 ratings
3.63 out of 5 stars
5 22% (3,385)
4 36% (5,501)
3 30% (4,568)
2 9% (1,429)
1 3% (536)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X