In this story, Mary is reaching the end of her days and she is still shattered by what she witnessed and what she ran away from. And there is the mother's guilt. Lots of that. And strength. And anger. Lots of that, too.
Mary clearly comes across differently here than the Church would have her. And the disciples don't look good either.
Some would find the book entirely blasphemous. Others will find it gut-wrenchingly sad. I also found it a thoughtful consideration of a mother's agony over the crucifixion of her son. And that is something to which I don't think I ever gave any thought -- which surprises me, now that I consider it.
Toibin does a superb job of making Mary completely human with a mother's heart and an aching and angry soul. This is the first time that I've viewed Mary as a whole person rather than an iconic figure.