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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Saturday, 27 January 2018

"The testament of Mary" by Colm Toibin

This is a wonderful novella. The aged Mary, close to death, is reflecting on the terrible events that led to the crucifixion and death of her son. The son whom she sees as the flesh and blood little boy she bore, nursed, weaned, nurtured, and in whom she took such joy. The boy who died.

Now she is being 'looked after' and closely supervised by two men who ask her questions, hoping that the story she tells will corroborate their beliefs that her son was the Son of God.

A great story and told with beautiful detail. But what marks this tiny fiction out as extraordinary, leading to a Booker prize nomination in 2013, is the perfection of the prose. Toibin writes like an angel.


  • "The bride and groom more like a couple to be sacrificed, for the sake of money, or status, or inheritance" (p 27)
  • "And there was a hushed holding-in of things, no wind, no rustling in the leaves of trees, no animal sounds. Cats moved out of sight, and shadows - even the very shadows - stayed as they were." (p 30)
  • "Death needs time and silence. The dead must be left alone with their new gift or their new freedom from affliction." (p 31)
  • "They would have done anything to divert the stream, make it meander on the plain and dry up under the weight of the sun." (p 32)
  • "When he took his last breath, when he was fully part of the sea, an invisible aspect of their rhythm. And during those days then, as river water slowly took on the taste of salt and they buried him and he lay fresh in the earth." (p 32)
  • "A man filled with power, a power that seemed to have no memory of years before, when he needed my breast for milk, my hand to help steady him as he learned to walk, or my voice to soothe him to sleep." (p 54)
  • "There are times in these days before death comes with my name in whispers, calling me towards the darkness, lulling me towards rest, when I know that I want more from the world. Not much, but more." (p 97)
  • "The world has loosened, like a woman preparing for bed who lets her hair flow free." (p 104)


Beautiful. January 2018; 104 pages

By the author of Brooklyn

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