The Testament of Mary

The Testament of Mary is a short novel by Irish writer Colm Tóibín. The book was published on 13 November 2012 by Scribner's.[1]

The Testament of Mary
The Testament of Mary.jpg
AuthorColm Tóibín
Publication date
13 November 2012
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Pages96 pp (hardback)
Preceded byBrooklyn 
Followed byNora Webster 


The novel concerns lies about the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, in her old age. She does not believe that her son was the son of God and refuses to co-operate with the writers of the gospels, who regularly visit her and provide her with food and shelter.


Initial critical reception for the book has been positive,[2][3] with a reviewer for the Irish Independent writing that "To say that this is a departure for the Wexford novelist is an understatement, but it can hardly fail to be a major talking point when it's published in October."[4] The Huffington Post also commented favourably on Tóibín's attempts to humanise Mary, saying: "The Testament of Mary is a reminder that Jesus indeed had a mother, and she was nobody's fool."[5]

It was on the shortlist for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Stage adaptationEdit

The first version of the text was produced in 2011 by the Dublin Theatre Festival and Landmark Productions, as a one-woman play starring Marie Mullen, Testament.[6] In January 2013, it was announced that Fiona Shaw would star in a Broadway stage adaptation of the play, titled The Testament of Mary, produced by Scott Rudin.[7] Despite positive reviews and three Tony Award nominations (including a nomination for the prestigious Best Play), the production was closed on 5 May 2013 – almost a month and a half before its run was due to end – prompting Fintan O'Toole to comment: "I spent three years as a critic on Broadway, and I still can't claim to understand it. But this strange conjunction of apparent success and utter failure functions as a microcosm in which some of its oddities can be seen with a reasonable degree of clarity. If you can grasp why a producer would close a show in response to the news that it has just been nominated for three Tony Awards, you can get some sense of how Broadway works."[8] United Solo awarded Shaw's performance with the special award at the 2013 festival.[9]


  1. ^ "The big novels of 2012". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Starred Review: THE TESTAMENT OF MARY". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Fiction Review: The Testament of Mary". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  4. ^ Boland, John (21 July 2012). "Holy God, here come the big guns". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  5. ^ long, karen (8 December 2012). "In Colm Toibin's 'The Testament of Mary,' Mary Is Far From Meek And Mild". HuffPost. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  6. ^ Crawley, Peter (5 October 2011). "Testament". The Irish Times.
  7. ^ Rooney, David (1 January 2013). "Fiona Shaw Returns to Broadway in 'The Testament of Mary'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  8. ^ O'Toole, Fintan (4 May 2013). "Why Tony Award nominations couldn't save 'The Testament of Mary'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  9. ^ Carey, Purcell (26 November 2013). "United Solo Festival Honors Fiona Shaw, Gordon Clapp and Eric Roberts". Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013.

External linksEdit