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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
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The Testaments (edition 2019)

by Margaret Atwood

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2487010,026 (4.11)118
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. With The testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.… (more)
Member:konallis
Title:The Testaments
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:London : Chatto & Windus, 2019.
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:
Tags:science fiction, dystopia/utopia, read 2019

Work details

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

  1. 01
    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 60 (next | show all)
The Testaments is a fun, intriguing read and suffers only in comparison with its classic predecessor, The Handmaid's Tale. The Testaments brings together the story of three women all at different levels within/without the new republic of Gilead. How they work to bring down this corrupt civilization is the bulk of the book. Without the shock of the original (HT) Testaments is eerily present-day and action focused. This book will appeal to readers who want their questions answered and seek a happy ending. ( )
  mjspear | Dec 9, 2019 |
Gilead, a future dystopia that bears way too many similarities to Trump's envisioned world of harsh male dominance and rigid control by those few in power, is at risk of being destroyed in this followup to the Handmaid's Tale. Three central characters provide the storyline about a world of forced marriages, defined social classes, fanaticism in the name of religion and a deeply fear based society. Margaret Atwood has created a very complete and, unfortunately, credible world.

I found it to be a quick and somewhat engrossing read, but not a deeply fulfilling one. I read the Handmaid's Tale 30 years ago when it was first published and was drawn in by it. By the time the tv series came out, our world had changed and I couldn't bear to watch more than 2 episodes. This book did not impact me that deeply. ( )
  njinthesun | Dec 8, 2019 |
While I don't believe this novel is as trite as other reviewers have suggested, the occasion and project of this work are very different from Handmaid's Tale and I'm grateful to Atwood for choosing optimism. It isn't fair to ask an artist to write in the midst of a storm. I believe the best novels about the beginning of our century are still decades off, but for what this is, a continuation of an impactful story partially written by other people as a television series so entwined with our political moment it has become an active synecdochical representation in international activist movements, it is incredible. I mean just for existing. Atwood was able to produce some kind of meaningful content knee deep in a river's flow.

Some aspects that struck me while reading: her use of wordplay in this novel may not have had the weight of the first novel but the period being described is very different. This is the end of Gilead so it made a lot of sense to employ malapropism for various idiomatic phrases as a demonstration of language's mutability under power (or subversion).

The escape to sea had an interesting parallel with Lanchester's The Wall. Returning to sea seems to figure strongly for authors writing their way out of oppression this year. I hope this doesn't mean I need to build an ark. Either way, I'll keep looking to rainbows as a sign of hope.

Finally, the ending (no spoilers). I'll just say I liked it. ( )
  Adrian_Astur_Alvarez | Dec 3, 2019 |
While I don't believe this novel is as trite as other reviewers have suggested, the occasion and project of this work are very different from Handmaid's Tale and I'm grateful to Atwood for choosing optimism. It isn't fair to ask an artist to write in the midst of a storm. I believe the best novels about the beginning of our century are still decades off, but for what this is, a continuation of an impactful story partially written by other people as a television series so entwined with our political moment it has become an active synecdochical representation in international activist movements, it is incredible. I mean just for existing. Atwood was able to produce some kind of meaningful content knee deep in a river's flow.

Some aspects that struck me while reading: her use of wordplay in this novel may not have had the weight of the first novel but the period being described is very different. This is the end of Gilead so it made a lot of sense to employ malapropism for various idiomatic phrases as a demonstration of language's mutability under power (or subversion).

The escape to sea had an interesting parallel with Lanchester's The Wall. Returning to sea seems to figure strongly for authors writing their way out of oppression this year. I hope this doesn't mean I need to build an ark. Either way, I'll keep looking to rainbows as a sign of hope.

Finally, the ending (no spoilers). I'll just say I liked it. ( )
  Adrian_Astur_Alvarez | Dec 3, 2019 |
A fitting sequel to The Handmaid's Tale. The characters in this book are different, but the world is the same. The world becomes more fleshed out, as the author adds details through the stories of three separate women who experience Gilead from different angles. No view from a Handmaid this time; instead, the experiences of women in different roles are explored. One of the characters, Aunt Lydia, was a minor character in the first book. Here, she becomes one of the major voices taking us on a journey in which we discover more about how Gilead came to be, and how the women who maintain the discipline of other women came to accept that role. In addition, there are two younger women, just beginning to realize the full extent of the impact Gilead will have on their lives. One is a young woman living within the world and just getting to the age of being old enough to marry; the other, a young woman from Canada who finds out her life is linked with Gilead in ways she never imagined. The skill of developing this story, the author's involvement with the characters, and the unique voice she brings to her world is fascinating and engrossing. The worst part of this book is the realization that it might not be as far from reality as we would like. ( )
  Devil_llama | Nov 26, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
In terms of language, interiority, structure, conceit, complexity and resonance it lacks the power of the original. If The Testaments were by a lesser known author and did not have the might and weight of The Handmaid’s Tale to act as an anchor, it would quickly become lost among all the other similarly timely feminist dystopias currently being written and consumed.
 
[...] 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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“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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