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The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale Hardcover – September 10, 2019
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WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE
AMAZON EDITORS’ PICK FOR THE BEST BOOK OF 2019
The Testaments is a modern masterpiece, a powerful novel that can be read on its own or as a companion to Margaret Atwood’s classic, The Handmaid’s Tale.
More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.
Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia. Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.
With The Testaments, Margaret Atwood opens up the innermost workings of Gilead, as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.
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“Margaret Atwood’s powers are on full display . . . Everyone should read The Testaments.”
—Los Angeles Times
“A fast, immersive narrative that’s as propulsive as it is melodramatic.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“The Testaments is worthy of the literary classic it continues. That’s thanks in part to Atwood’s capacity to surprise, even writing in a universe we think we know so well.”
“The women of Gilead are more fascinating than ever.”
“There may be no novelist better suited to tapping the current era’s anxieties than Margaret Atwood.”
“Powerful, revealing, and engaging.”
“A rare treat . . . a corker of a plot, culminating in a breathless flight to freedom.”
—Laura Miller, Slate.com
About the Author
- Publisher : Nan A. Talese; First Ed edition (September 10, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 432 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385543786
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385543781
- Lexile measure : HL790L
- Item Weight : 1.7 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #20,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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For the first eight chapters, “The Testaments” is a bit labored. Details are laid out almost like a narrative catalogue. Chapter 8 marks the beginning of Atwood magic and for almost 300 pages, you’re drawn into a first person accounting of the events of the past, (during Handmaid’s)the intervening years and the present days of Agnes Jemima. This portion of the book is pure gold and 5⭐️worthy
At chapter 40, the 1st person POV continues but is now voiced by Nicole and takes on a snarky tone. The action for these next 90 pages is kicked up a few notches and the book ends with what seems like resolution and the overall writing in this section is not as engaging as the last section, imo.
This installment of Atwood’s doesn’t require warnings that are as strong as the first one. Violence is not an issue and there is only one very brief sexual encounter with very little description attached. There are references to the duties of a handmaid, but they are fairly obtuse. Language is the only issue that some folks will have a problem with. There are 4-5 f-bombs and a smattering of other expletives 3/10 used for literary accent, not gratuitously.
Closing out this volume are the “historical notes to the 13th symposium”. This is a presented as a list of references and narrative to a symposium board by way of evidence/proof to substantiate the document which is “The Testsments”📚
UPDATE: At the suggestion of two readers, I did look thru this book again to see if my review needed revision and it did in that I’d
assigned POV credit to the wrong character. My apologies, that has been corrected. The remainder of my review stands. It
has been 35 years since “Handmaid’s Tale” and I’ve not watched the Hulu production. My interest was not peaked by
by political application but by human motivation. Why would the Aunts live this way for so long, instruct other young girls
in this lifestyle, not look to escape? What motivates them? Did they find peace or love in God or the religious rites? These
are not easy answers to find in “The Testament” format 📚
If you expected a "happily ever after" story about "Offred" that isn't this book. It's more about the fall of the dystopian and non-functional Gilead from the point of view of some of the women, gender-traitors, who run the regime and also some of the young women born into the system. Haven't you wondered what a young girl would think of her impending marriage in such a world where women are vessels, not allowed to read and treated as chattel?
Best of all in this book is the story of Agnes Jemima, a young girl growing up as a daughter of a Commander and a Wife. She's an innocent, trying to make sense of the Gilead world where everything is kept secret or is an out-and-out deception. Her simplistic voice is almost like that of Offred in the original Handmaid book, with its cool observation and background of confusion about what went on before or behind her back.
Then we get the "autobiography" and first-person story of Aunt Lydia, the moral guardian of the Gilead society. As well as some of the story of the "Underground Female-Road" and the resistance (Mayday Movement) The deeper look into the complex villain Aunt Lydia fleshes out the cartoonish cruel and vicious prison matron picture into something much more interesting.
I wondered how such a dysfunctional society bent on execution, control and utter despondency could survive for long, so here is the sequel filling in that story.
The book is an absolute page turner from page one. The prose are beautifully written in a style that readers of Atwood’s work have come to expect. Be prepared to put everything aside as you will not be able to put the book down.
One thing that was pretty disappointing is there is almost no mention of June. There were also quite a few plot holes but it was great finding out about how things turned out in Gilead.
Hopefully The Testaments will give Hulu a framework for the rest of the Handmaid‘s Tale Series.
Top reviews from other countries
#1 What was the point of Aunt Lydia plotting to bring Baby Nicole back to Gilead, only to send her back to Canada with the microdot? Why did she need to expose the girl to such danger, and surely she could have got the microdot into Canada by some other means?
#2 Would exposing the crimes of the Gilead ruling class really be enough to bring the whole society down? In our post truth age, with world leaders literally breaking the law in plain sight on a daily basis, this seems like a far-fetched liberal fantasy.
Congratulations Margaret Atwood ..You have 100per cent out done your self in the writing of THE TESTAMENT ..
It was so good I read it twice in succession and will probably (definitely) read it again....For all fans of The Handmaid's Tale...please read this for your self. If like me, you will cry, laugh and hold your breath in parts, as I did...
A truly remarkable and unique way of finding the truth of the story . Thank you Margaret Atwood
The only way I can think to describe it is to say the book seemed to me a little as though it had been written by Jessica Fletcher, of Murder She Wrote. Who had been binge watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I enjoyed this as a page-turner but it really doesn't stand up well against the original which was a potent depiction of powerlessness. This time round the girls are somehow too kick-ass. I read another review which described this as like Atwood writing fan-fic of her own text - that nails it!
Manage your expectations with this one.
The Testaments takes place approximately 15-16 years later than The Handmaid's Tale. The reader sees what the world now looks like through the testimony of three female narrators: Aunt Lydia (yes, that Aunt Lydia), Witness 369A, and Witness 369B. Aunt Lydia reveals that Gilead's citizens are more power-hungry and corrupt than ever. Trust is a rarity, and Aunt Lydia says to "Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Having no friends, I must make do with enemies." Witness 369A tells the reader about her life growing up as the daughter of a Commander in Gilead. Witness 369B lives in Canada, and gives the reader her perspective as an outsider of Gilead, looking in. I can't give you any more details about the narrators than that without spoiling the many twists, turns, shocks and surprises you will encounter as you read the book.
I've been waiting for this sequel for so long that I really wanted to take my time reading it. However, my copy must have contained chocolate because it kept calling me to come back to it, and I ended up reading it within a day. I found myself totally engaged with the narrators and each new morsel of information they revealed made it that much harder for me to put down.