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The Testaments (2019)

by Margaret Atwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Handmaid's Tale (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,2841542,957 (4.06)229
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)
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» See also 229 mentions

English (145)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  French (2)  All languages (154)
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
Page turner. Some parts not so believable but overall good. ( )
  kakadoo202 | May 31, 2021 |
As a big fan of Margaret Atwood, and especially her novel “The Handmaids Tale” and the TV show of the same name on Hulu, I was beyond excited when I heard there was going to be a sequel to “Handmaids”. I always wondered what had become of Offred after the events in the first book. Now this novel is supposed to become its own Hulu series, and I am definitely going to be tuning into that! ⁣
As much as I want to talk about this book, I also don’t want to spoil too much of it for you. The story takes place 15 years after Offred’s mysterious final scene in the first book. We are introduced to 3 compelling female centric voices in alternating chapters that explain what has not only become of Gilead during this time, but other parts of the world in its wake as well. (If you watch the series, then you will come to the conclusion of the narrators fairly quickly) This story is more action packed than the first one, and gives you an outsiders perspective of this authoritarian country. For those of you who haven’t read “Handmaids”, then I have come to the conclusion that although this book is a sequel, it also stands on its own and fills in the backstory of the characters and Gilead’s history enough that you won’t feel too out of the loop. ⁣
Atwood’s writing was gripping and had me eagerly turning each page. She carefully curated each character so they were not one dimensional; you knew their history, their desires and fears. You felt all of those alongside them. Some readers have called the ending “cookie cutter”, but personally I felt it was deserved and was glad this one wasn’t ambiguous! ⁣ ( )
  brookiexlicious | May 9, 2021 |
And they lived happily ever after

Not quite tied up with a bow. But, close enough. Or perhaps I’m so soured by the ways of the world right now that all hope of goodness has withered in me.

It’s a good story and it kept me engaged to the end. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
"Being able to read and write did not provide answers to all the questions. It led to other questions, and then to others."

The Testaments is Atwood's sequel to her acclaimed novel 'A Handmaid's Tale' and returns to Gilead, where women’s bodies are the property of the state.

But this tale is not actually about Handmaids even if they are never far from the minds of the three narrators. The events take place some fifteen years after the original finished and features the two daughters of June (Offred),one of whom had been smuggled to Canada whilst the other remained in Gilead, and Aunt Lydia. Each tell their story in the first person, the two girls in the form of witness testimonies whilst Aunt Lydia's is in more diary form. Each character’s tale overlaps in some ways the events of the original book. However,the role of the Aunts is undoubtedly the main concern as once again the author returns to the themes of female subjugation, sexual crimes and sisterhood.

Atwood doesn't try to rewrite history concerning Aunt Lydia, a character widely regarded as a monster but she does ask the reader to consider just how she became to be like that and whether or not we too would have made the same choices given similar circumstances. In fact everyone’s place in Gilead society seems uncertain, even those Commanders who were part of the initial coup. The Testaments poses questions around survival, complicity and manipulation when all the choices around you are bad. Zugzwang I believe they call it in chess.

Now whilst I enjoyed reading Aunt Lydia's segment of the book I was left underwhelmed by the remainder of the story. The final third in particular read like an adventure story complete with the smuggling of state secrets and escape from a ruthless regime, all with predictable outcomes.

Whilst I enjoyed Atwood's writing style as always, I was left with two burning questions, Why and What.

Why was this book ever written? For that I suggest that we the readers and viewers of the TV series must take a lot of the blame as no doubt there was a great clamour for the author to do so. And What does this book add to the original? The answer to that question for me was nothing, other than the satisfaction that like all corrupt regimes sooner or later they fail. This was an OK read but ultimately a let down. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Apr 12, 2021 |
I liked it but I felt like there wasn't enough character development included to justify Agnes and Becca's decision to work with Aunt Lydia. The characters also felt rather shallow and simple compared to Handmaid's Tale. I also didn't care for the narrative style with the mix of witness reports and the supposed history symposium at the end. It felt out of place and unnecessary to the story. ( )
  SGTCat | Feb 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
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 [...]

» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atwood, Margaretprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bar, NomaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dean, SuzanneCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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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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.

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