by Colm Toibin
In the ancient town of Ephesus, Mary lives alone, years after her sonâ€™s crucifixion. She has no interest in collaborating with the authors of the Gospel, who are her keepers. She does not agree that her son is the Son of God; nor that his death was â€œworth itâ€; nor that the â€œgroup of misfits he gathered around him, men who could not look a woman in the eye,â€ were holy disciples.
Mary judges herself ruthlessly (she did not stay at the foot of the cross until her son diedâ€”she fled, to save herself), and her judgment of others is equally harsh. This woman whom we know from centuries of paintings and scripture as the docile, loving, silent, long-suffering, obedient, worshipful mother of Christ becomes a tragic heroine with the relentless eloquence of Electra or Medea or Antigone. TÃ³ibÃnâ€™s tour de force of imagination and language is a portrait so vivid and convincing that our image of Mary will be forever transformed.