The Testament of Mary - Colm Tóibín
The Biblical Mary is pious and pure, obediently accepting her son’s—and her own— given roles in a divine plan. In the hands of master storyteller Colm Tóibín, however, Mary is not a beatific figure and the Gospels are not empirical history; instead, Mary is critical, judging her son’s followers as overeager loudmouths, mere “fools, twitchers, malcontents, stammerers.” She mocks them for believing in eternal life. She sees the “miracles” of the raising of Lazarus and the conversion of wine into water as base opportunism in a time of chaos and feverish hope. After her son’s crucifixion, when asked to narrate the events that will become the synoptic gospels, Mary is reticent and declares, “I can tell you now… It was not worth it.” Biblical retellings are almost as old as Christianity, but The Testament of Mary (Scribner, $19.99) infuses new urgency into a familiar story with its provocative portrait of the Madonna.