Dear Great Book Guru, I just came home from Elizabeth Weinstein's lovely annual Cookie Swap. What a great party and, as you might expect at such a gathering, throughout the evening there was much talk of good books. Someone mentioned that her book group had chosen a very controversial novella - something about biblical characters. It sounded interesting. Are you familiar with this book? Book and Cookie Fan
Dear Book and Cookie, The book you are interested in THE TESTAMENT OF MARY by Colm Toibin is indeed controversial and a great choice for group discussion. Toibin who has written many award winning books- BROOKLYN, THE MASTER, BLACKWATER LIGHTSHIP, MOTHER AND SONS- all of which have an underlying theme of Irish alienation- turns to a very different topic: the last days of a grieving, angry, reproachful Mary, mother of Christ. Toibin's Mary expresses disdain for her son's followers calling them "misfits," the evangelists, "inquisitors", and refuses to see her child as Son of God, turning instead to the Greek goddess Artemis for solace. Toibin's Mary guiltily flees her son's crucifixion before he dies- out of fear for her own safety . She refuses to share in his suffering because" one's own pain is more than enough." In his Mary, Toibin offers a bleak but strangely beautiful portrait of humankind. She says of her sufferings and her son's: "it was not worth it. " Yes, as I said- a controversial book, indeed.
On another note: this Saturday, Dec. 22 at 2pm after the Children's Library closes, we will be gathering there for our annual reading of Dickens's CHRISTMAS CAROL. It takes about an hour and is appropriate for teenagers and adults. Hope you can join us!