In addition to finishing The Good House this week, my copy of Colm Tóibín's audiobook of The Testament of Mary arrived at the library. It's not particularly long, just about three hours, so I finished it in a day. Meryl of course is fantastic in her reading. Her voice is so soothing, and her interpretation of the title character makes for a compelling listen. For those unaware of what this book is about, it's a look at Mary the mother of Jesus in her old age and the aftermath of her son's death. She does not believe he was the son of God and recalls/retells several events leading up to his last days which contrast with history's traditional views of Christ.
Before I listened to this book, from what I understood I thought it would be difficult to adapt it into a film version. It had a brief run as as stage play on Broadway earlier this year starring Fiona Shaw in a one-woman show, so the idea of it as a performed work is obviously not out of the question. After having finished listening to it, I'm convinced that not only it could work as a film adaptation, but that it would be amazing to see this story brought to the screen.
The most enticing prospect of seeing this on film would be the aforementioned contrasted depiction of what Tóibín provides as a fictionalized look at a woman and the traditionally-held Christian view of her as the mother of God. Obviously such a contrast would provoke some strong opinions on the subject, particularly in the United States, but that makes it so much more interesting. It wouldn't have to be a political statement, instead a reimagined look at woman whom we may think we know well, but in truth know very little about. I remember thinking while listening to the book that in reality it's a more likely and believable historical interpretation of Christ's life than what we can read in the Bible.
Were such a production to come to fruition, like Doubt and August: Osage County the setting could be opened up considerably from the stage version. I imagine it could be filmed in or around the Middle East, with Meryl styled to look like an Israelite Jew from the first century, which would be quite a departure from any other character representation I can recall seeing from her in the past onscreen.
I don't know exactly what ultimately made Meryl decide to become involved with the audio version of this novel, but obviously the story connected with her in some way. She has narrated numerous other works over the years, but this is the first that could arguably be made into a film where Meryl could star as the main character. The only other would be the first book she narrated this year, Norah Ephron's Heartburn. And well, we know that book's film history. Consider this another kick in the pants to the universe to make this happen.