The Casual Librarian

My thoughts and opinions

Book Review: The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

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IMG_0017My love for Literary Fiction is beyond any words I could think and/or write, I follow many of the critically acclaimed reviews of authors such as Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, Colum McCann & Zadie Smith (to name a few). 

Within this piece, I am going to challenge myself with reviewing this piece. I first read Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn back in 2009 and his style is simply delicate, yet steeped in detail
and it is that easy current that draws you in and makes you part of the story.

I have also read The Empty Family and I raved so much to my partner that he went and purchased a signed first edition for my birthday. Since then I have heard Tóibín speak at the Kilkenny Literature Festival in 2012 and have personally received a signed copy of an earlier piece The Master. 

So this brings me to his newest work of literature, as Tóibín was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 I was apprehensive at first to buy it, the backdrop to the story seemed very… well boring. I really don’t care to gain an insight into Mother Mary’s life and I really don’t care to relive Jesus’s story if I want to regain my religious side I will read the Bible (maybe not).

However when I started to read it I was very surprised, but many questions made me research the reasoning behind Tóibín’s idea for such a strange character, and to make it Fiction in a very Catholic Ireland seems somewhat out of place, I know the Catholic Church are not going to jump on this and review in a good or bad light, however the people of Ireland are still very spiritual, more so than one might think. If some have left their churches they still have the faith in the what our religion has given us; A higher being.

The voice I start to hear is one of a woman with many hopes, but on the flip side has many losses within her mind, these losses do not seem so surprising to this woman, she wishes for these returns but knows within her heart that these will not be given to her. She has a disbelief about her voice, a questionable tone towards the events she is re-enacting.

The events detail the circumstances behind Jesus’s story, a political context with a viewpoint of a mother who just wants to keep her son safe, these contexts of a religious story has a modern edge, no longer a tale it now holds a contemporary concrete reasoning to it.

A intelligent and very thoughtful read, the voice had a deep rooted element to it, her thoughts and feelings, even her determination made me take note of the events surrounding Jesus’s death.

This is Tóibín’s expertise, he gives you this voice that burrows into your heart and moves through you, makes you visualise the events so deeply that you become to love this character and the story even if the topic would not be a personal favourite.

A quick read, yet an intense and eye-opening topic, it has done what Tóibín has set out to do; give Jesus’s story a different lens!





Author: siobhanmac

Loves Libraries, Books, and Sunshine!

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