Paul Bailey

His Mother’s Son

The Testament of Mary

By

Viking 104pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Colm Tóibín’s latest novella is as intriguing as it is mischievous. In The Testament of Mary he tells the story of Jesus Christ’s horribly curtailed life from his mother’s point of view. She never mentions her beloved boy’s name because the pain of his passing is still with her in exile in Ephesus, her last resting place. Her fondest memories of him are concerned with his childhood and adolescence, when he was dependent upon her and his also unnamed human father. She describes his time in her womb in rapturous terms, as is proper for a devout woman. The Holy Ghost doesn’t get a look-in here. The birth of this Mary’s child was an everyday wonder, not an act of eternal religious significance. Tóibín’s commonsensical Mary is possessed of many virtues, high among which is the capacity to doubt. She is instinctively a sceptic when pondering the behaviour of other people, including the men and women who besought her son to perform miracles.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,