The incomparable, multi-award-winning Meryl Streep reads this spellbinding novel from acclaimed author Cólm Toibín.
'I remember everything. Memory fills my body. As much as blood and bones.' This is Mary. A mother whose son was taken from her and lost to the world. A woman who lives now in exile, watched by those who seek to preserve the sanctity of her son's memory.
But Mary's recollections of his difficult life and tragic death are a truth that few who knew her son now recognize. As the myths grow around her like walls, so Mary clings to the truth, revealing, in a time of turmoil and profound change, her own fragile humanity.
©2013 Colm Tóibín (P)2013 AudioGO Ltd
"Beguiling, deeply intelligent, moving. Akin to a dark and brilliantly half-glimpsed political thriller" (Sunday Times)
"Lyrical and evocative and his portrait of the aged Mary is beautifully achieved" (Daily Mail)
"Fearsomely strange, deeply thoughtful, subtly disturbing" (Guardian)
Raw, real and succinct
Without any doubt, it was Mary's description of the crucifixion of her son.
Meryl Streep has a soft and deep voice that is very easy to listen to. She is also a consummate performer and uses her skills to bring this suffering woman to vivid life.
...suffering so great that even speaking the name of her loved one is unbearable...
Don't listen to this book if you do not have some idea of the life of Jesus and, to a lesser extent, his mother, Mary. Most of the events referred to in the story are not explained, clearly it is assumed that the reader knows them.
Don't listen to this book if you want to find a kindly mother who is coming to terms with the death and loss of a son - that is not the Mary of this Testament. This Mary is truly suffering, not only the loss of her son, but from her own actions, her own responses to him in life and death.
Don't expect to understand the characters, or even to know who they are, when you listen for the first time. I have listened to it and also read it three times, and each time I uncover more. I am still not sure of whom Mary is speaking at times.
This is a gut wrenching, heart tearing book; but it is so alive, so real, so beautiful.
Don't be afraid to listen to it.
"Wonderful re-telling of an old story"
This is the story of Jesus told from Mary's point of view. It is written very powerfully and in such an original way that it makes you think about it for the first time as being a very human story. Mary is seen as a real person and not the 2 dimensional image we normally have of her. In particular, the description of the crucifixion is visceral and the narration of Mary about how she felt as a mother when that happened to her son is very moving.
My only complaint is that although I like Meryl Streep I did find the very strong American accent irritating.
"Lyrical, dramatic, amazing!"
This is the most arresting book I have ever listened to, due to Meryl Streep's remarkable reading.
Meryl Streep's timing, the way she uses silences and hushed whisperings, are unbelievable and heart stopping. Her performance is lyrical, poetic, dramatic ... it will stay with me for a very long time.
"In the name of the mother."
Short and sour.
The macabre resurrection of poor Lazarus and the dreamed resurrection of Jesus.
A measured, professional reading with just the right amount of acting up.
Mary and her mystery guardian's identical dreams of Jesus' resurrection. The doubting mother was never quite convinced of her son's divinity and interrogated the 3rd and 4th hand accounts of his miracles. She doubted Lazarus' death and may have been persuaded that the new wine at Cana was a new batch brought in through the back door. The dream however allows her to believe. Perhaps the author feels that if a resurected Jesus is going to appear, he can't imagine it happening in anything other than a dream-like apparition. So her's (and the author's) belief is taking a peak out of the subconscious.
It's as if the author is using the character Mary as a narrative device for exploring his own scepticism, and in turn guiding a reader to do the same. In the end I think he protests too much. I was suspicious about the length of this novella from a novelist, but I didn't come away from it feeling short changed. Having recently read Mark's Gospel I can appreciate a succinct approach to telling a gripping story. Or should I say testament??
I'm not sure these celebrity readers are such a good idea. I think Meryl Streep is a good actress, but that doesn't necessarily mean she is a great reader. There was too much of acting, strange emphases, distracting mannerisms, and it was impossible to forget that it was Meryl Streep reading. That made it difficult to concentrate on the book, which was interesting and deserved better.
I find the book and Mary's viewpoint very interesting and it puts our view of Jesus into a different and possible perspective. How did the young people and Jesus himself behave from the mother's perspective? I can well imagine the way she sees her son and his friends.
I do admire Meryl Streep, but I did not find her performance helpful for this book. Her voice is so breathy, too secretive and too much acting, while this is "only" a book, not a play. This is one of the books I would have preferred to read or to have been read to in a less dramatic and personal way. I do not think Meryl Streep's performance mirrors Mary's character in the book. All that drama and whisper! She interferes between the reader/listener and the book.This does not mean that Meryl Streep isn't an excellent actress. She is and she knows how to read and articulate, but it just doesn't work for this story. This, of course, is only a personal opinion.
No, I found it difficult to listen to the story behind all the Meryl Streep. Normally I have no problem concentrating or getting involved in an audiobook. But here I had to filter. I was far more interested in Mary and Toibin than in the performer who totally takes over. I found myself distracted and a bit irritated.
Would like to read the book instead of listening to the audible version.
"A mother's version of the truth"
I would consider that both versions are of equal merit.
It made me thing of the Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, but only because both present the old story of Jesus from compelling and different perspectives.
I bought this book on the basis of its being by Colm Toibin, that it was on the Booker prize shortlist and that it was narrated by the supremely wonderful, Meryl Streep. I was not to be disappointed.She brought to life the strength,character and emotions of Mary with such moving and disturbing clarity that you could not help but be silent and listen, absorbing every beautifully written word. You felt her rage and her fear. At the description of the crucifixion I found myself feeling extremely upset - and I say this as a much lapsed Catholic, who does not usually feel like this. Most of all you felt her strength and appreciated her telling things like it was.
This is a beautifully written old story from an unusual perspective. I like the challenge this presents and love the strong, rather than saintly, character of Mary.
This is a fantastic book to read alongside 'Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth' by Reza Aslan, as they both try to humanise Jesus, and peek behind the vast mythology that has sprung up around him. Whether or not you believe he was the son of God he was, first and foremost, the son of Mary, and her loss is the greatest, and this is beautifully portrayed in this book. A great read - fantastically narrated by Meryl Streep - and I'd fully recommend it.
"He was robbed!"
This is a beautiful narrative poem rather than a novel and I'm sad Tobin did not win the Booker Prize with it. Meryl Streep's reading is faultless, I found myself feeling time and again I was listening to Mary thinking aloud rather than an actress performing; superb. This will stay on my iPod and I know I will listen to this many times.
I never felt this book delivered what I expected. It was moving if taken as a story of a mother whose son has been executed. But I felt the book was too short, the dialogue as spoken by Mary seemed too modern and out-of--place, and most of the characters were never fully developed, so it was difficult to really care about them or their fate.
I would have made the book longer and developed the characters so that they became more than just shadowy figures. That way, people would have been able to empathise with the characters and get more involved in the story.
The only character with anything to say was Mary, who naturally was very bitter and angry, but I struggled with her dialogue as, for me, it felt out of place and too modern for the time in which the story is set. Would Mary, a woman from that time, really have thought this way? Why did she complain about her painful feet when her son was being crucified? Why did she run away rather than stay to the end? I found Mary a rather cold character, someone difficult to get close to.
Meryl Streep did a wonderful job of reading the story. I suspect that if I had read the book rather than listened to it, I would have given up before the end.
I have recently read a few short books / novellas, and while I enjoyed a few of these stories, I generally disliked this format for the reasons mentioned above. I love long books where I can immerse myself in the story and characters, where I can submerge myself in another world, and I suspect this has coloured my view of The Testament of Mary.
"The Triumph of Meryl"
This book is pretty much near the top of my list of favourite listens so far. Colm Toibin has written, from Mary's point of view, a moving and tender account of the rise and fall of her son, Jesus Christ. Not only is it a wonderful piece of writing, but the narration is just wonderful, full of angst and heart-rending emotion. I could happily listen to Meryl Streep reading my weekly grocery shopping list.
I was reminded of "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ", by Philip Pullman, which also gave a different interpretation of events surrounding the life and death of Mary's son.
I haven't listened to any Meryl Streep performances previously, but I will certainly seek out more in the future.
I will listen to it again, hopefully in one sitting this time.
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