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The Testaments: The Sequel to The…
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The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale (edition 2019)

by Margaret Atwood (Author)

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8403416,741 (4.25)77
"In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades. When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her--freedom, prison or death. With The Testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead."--provided by publisher.… (more)
Member:PhonyGal
Title:The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale
Authors:Margaret Atwood (Author)
Info:Nan A. Talese (2019), Edition: First Edition, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Read in 2019

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The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

  1. 00
    Abigail by Magda Szabó (Dilara86)
    Dilara86: One is speculative fiction, the other isn't, but they both take place in a girls-only school at a time of war/unrest and describe female microcosms, friendships between teenage girls and ambiguous authority figures.
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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale. This story is constructed of documents written 15 years after the events of the first book. A young Canadian, an elderly Aunt, and a young novice Aunt, tell of how their lives intersect, and change due to their dealings with each other. ( )
  lilibrarian | Oct 16, 2019 |
Well, this is a totally unnecessary book.

The narrative is split between three characters: a pampered* daughter of Gilead; a self-absorbed Canadian teenager who may as well have "Chosen One" flashing above her in neon; and Aunt Lydia, that ruthless torturer from The Handmaid's Tale.
Aside from Aunt Lydia's story, The Testaments reads like YA dystopian at its absolute worst, with two narrators who question almost nothing, and who drift through their lives on a sea of implausible coincidence.

The Testaments worst gaffe is giving facile answers to the questions we were left with in The Handmaid's Tale; question which, in most cases, didn't need to be answered.

What keeps me from totally dismissing this one is Aunt Lydia's tale. Learning her backstory and seeing her navigate her way to a position of power is fascinating. And it's in this section we are given another horrifying literary villain in Commander Judd, a nightmarish cross between Bluebeard and Humbert Humbert. However, it feels like Atwood got bored writing the most interesting part of the book and didn't think it necessary to allude to any sort of motivation for Lydia's final actions.

I won't say I was let down by The Testaments because I didn't really have any expectations for it, but I will say that it's kind of sad that Atwood took thirty-odd years to come up with something so mediocre.

*Well, as pampered as any female in Gilead can be. ( )
  amanda4242 | Oct 14, 2019 |
This book has had a lot of advance hype. I am happy to say that I feel it lived up to that and more. As a follow-up to The Handmaid's Tale it answers a lot of questions and as a stand alone novel about the rise and fall of totalitarian regimes it is a hopeful beacon.

The Testaments are the stories of three women associated with Gilead, the misogynistic, totalitarian regime instituted within the United States of America at some future time. Aunt Lydia (who we also met in The Handmaid's Tale) writes about her initial arrest and incarceration and her decision to support the male regime. Daisy is a teenager who grew up in Canada but she is actually Baby Nicole who was smuggled out of Gilead. Daisy only learned that she was Baby Nicole when she turned 16. The third witness is Agnes Jemima, a young girl who grew up in Gilead as the daughter of a Commander and his wife Tabitha. She is being groomed to become a wife. Although she goes to school she does not know how to read; mostly they do needlepoint which Agnes is not very good at.

In time these three people meet. It would destroy a good part of the plot to describe much more but since Atwood herself has said that this book answers the question about how Gilead fell I think I can say that they were involved with the ultimate fate of Gilead.

Just as in The Handmaid's Tale the epilogue is styled as a presentation to a conference and here we get a little glimpse at Atwood's sly humour. Anyone who has ever attended a conference will recognize the setting and then they will understand how Atwood skewers experts and academia who take themselves too seriously.

Truly a great read. ( )
  gypsysmom | Oct 14, 2019 |
The Testaments is a tale told from the points of view of various characters, one at a time, who bring this novel to life, turbulently so. Only a master writer could bring that off, but Atwood is up to the challenge. On page 73, it does mention that the character Agnes is given a black dress. Later, on page 159, Atwood states that Agnes must take off her school uniform to be measured for a new dress, since she has no other dresses except for a white dress she wears to church. So, does Agnes still have that black dress, or not? It's not clear ... a very minor point, however. The finding that only one unclear point arises in a 415-page epic novel, however, causes me to feel that I should remove my hat in respect. Given the novel's subject matter, I especially appreciated its sub-theme of the nature of love. ( )
  MaureenRoy | Oct 12, 2019 |
So many thoughts, but most of them are about the comparison between this one and its predecessor, The Handmaid's Tale. It's easier to compare when you read them back to back, right? I liked the first one best. Though The Testaments has a lot of techniques that I usually enjoy (multiple perspectives, a bit of a puzzle to be figured out, etc.), I found myself less curious about the story, less bought in, than I was with Handmaid's. And again, that Symposium at the end sucked me in more than anything else I had read. Why is that? Mixed feelings, glad to gave read it, would recommend to some but not all.
  justagirlwithabook | Oct 12, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
[...] Where Atwood's interests do undeniably lie is in shaking us up, challenging our complacencies and using her chillingly profound imagination to challenge us to think and rethink, to see our volatile and increasingly toxic world anew. But is she willing to leave room for her reader? I have my own test of what makes a truly great work of fiction: can you revisit it at a later point in your life and read a whole different novel? In other words, is the novel sufficiently elastic – and slippery and enigmatic – to grow with you?

The Handmaid's Tale triumphantly passes this test. But occasionally, with its wide-angle sweep and wholehearted lack of uncertainty, its angels and demons struggle and seemingly effortless resolutions, The Testaments can feel as if it's already decided what it thinks. And what we should think, too.
added by Cynfelyn | editThe Guardian, Julie Myerson (Sep 15, 2019)
 
Atwood's eminently rewarding sequel revels in the energy of youth, the shrewdness of old age, and the vulnerabilities of repressive regimes.
added by rretzler | editPublishers Weekly (starred review) (pay site) (Sep 9, 2019)
 
It’s hard, of course, to compete with a beloved classic, so maybe the best way to read this new book is to forget about The Handmaid’s Tale and enjoy it as an artful feminist thriller.
added by rretzler | editKirkus Reivews (pay site) (Sep 4, 2019)
 
Agency and strength, Atwood seems to be suggesting, do not require a heroine with the visionary gifts of Joan of Arc, or the ninja skills of a Katniss Everdeen or Lisbeth Salander — there are other ways of defying tyranny, participating in the resistance or helping ensure the truth of the historical record. The very act of writing or recording one’s experiences, Atwood argues, is “an act of hope.” Like messages placed in bottles tossed into the sea, witness testimonies count on someone, somewhere, being there to read their words [...]
 
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Epigraph
“Every woman is supposed to have the same set of motives, or else to be a monster.” —GEORGE ELIOT, DANIEL DERONDA
“When we look one another in the face, we’re neither of us just looking at a face we hate—no, we’re gazing into a mirror….Do you really not recognize yourselves in us…?” —OBERSTURMBANNFÜHRER LISS TO OLD BOLSHEVIK MOSTOVSKOY, VASILY GROSSMAN, LIFE AND FATE
“Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake….It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one.” —URSULA K. LE GUIN, THE TOMBS OF ATUAN
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Only dead people are allowed to have statues, but I have been given one while still alive.
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