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The Testaments: The Sequel to The…
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The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid's Tale

by Margaret Atwood

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454435,483 (4.37)36
PREORDER THE SEQUEL TO THE HANDMAID'S TALE The third season of the AWARD-WINNING TV SERIES is now airing on Channel 4 starring Elisabeth Moss And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light. 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 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead. 'Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in.' Margaret Atwood 'THE LITERARY EVENT OF THE YEAR' Guardian… (more)

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Atwood took on an enormous challenge in writing this sequel to [The Handmaid's Tale], which has experienced a cultural resurgence due to the TV series. I was so curious to find out how she would meet expectations of her reading following, her television following, and her own standards. I personally had fairly low expectations for this book because of all of that, but I think that Atwood really rose to the occasion and came up with a book that, while not as shocking and memorable as [The Handmaid's Tale], is a successful book.

Instead of continuing Offred's story where it left off, Atwood jumps forward in time about 15 years. I thought this was VERY smart. In fact, Offred only exists in this book in the reader's assumption and/or imagination. Instead there are three narrators, writing their own stories. The familiar Aunt Lydia, a young girl named Agnes growing up in a privileged family who is slated to be a Wife, and a young girl named Daisy who is growing up outside of Gilead in Canada. Politically, the Mayday resistance to Gilead is growing and Gilead is starting to deteriorate. Right away, we find out that Aunt Lydia is actually part of that resistance and has been all along. We get her back story and see how she is working the system from the inside. I won't give any plot away, but Agnes and Daisy's stories end up intertwined as well, with each other and with Aunt Lydia.

The book ends, again, with a conference on Gileadean studies where some possible connections presented in the documents are discussed. I actually loved the very last statement of the book, that is a gravestone tribute to one of the characters. This short inscription managed to really color a lot of how I felt about this book in a positive way. It's the sort of moment that can deepen what you just read in an instant.

I've tried to be very careful not to give away any plot and that's difficult here, because this is a very plot-driven novel. I'm not sure what the reaction to this book will be from Atwood fans. I enjoyed it and thought it was well done, but at the same time, if it didn't have the connection to [The Handmaid's Tale], I don't think I would have found it special or memorable at all. I hope that many people on LT choose to read it, though, because I'd love to hear everyone's opinions! ( )
  japaul22 | Sep 18, 2019 |
As others have remarked, it's a closure to The Handmaid's Tale, but apart from that it was a bit ho-hum for me. The expansion of Aunt Lydia's story was interesting but I didn't really care about the other 2 POV characters. ( )
  SChant | Sep 17, 2019 |
I started this book yesterday afternoon, and, with breaks for eating and other necessities, I read into the night until my face hurt and my eyes could no longer focus. At 7am this morning, I stumbled from my bed, grabbed a cup of coffee, and went right back to it. It has been a long time since I was so invested in a book that I consumed more than 400 pages in a day and a half.

I was nervous when this book was announced. I couldn't help but wonder if this book had been produced by the sort of pressures that come with having a hugely successful show, rather than the passion of an artist with a story to tell. Would it let me down? And how could it possibly live up to the first novel, which was a life-altering experience for me?

But I need not have feared. This isn't The Handmaid's Tale come again, but rather, more satisfyingly, the story of Gilead that we need today. Atwood neatly and deftly ties together both books and the Hulu series, though one needn't necessarily have seen the show to appreciate this book.

I am tired but wholly satisfied. ( )
1 vote Zoes_Human | Sep 16, 2019 |
Let's be clear: The Testaments is no Handmaid's Tale. As a sequel - even as an individual work of fiction - it doesn't measure up to the brilliance that is its predecessor.

What it is, however, is closure. For all of us who have yearned to know what happened - did she make it out - did Gilead ever fall - The Testaments brings answers to our questions. And it does so as a strong, engaging, fascinating work of fiction.

Atwood uses three voices to tell Gilead's continuing story, and while I found them all engaging, the voice of the Aunt was the most compelling for me. I found this novel to be a quick read - I was entirely engaged from page one, and didn't want to put it down until I had reached the end.

I think, for those of us who have loved this novel over the years, The Testaments will be satisfying. It doesn't reach the same levels as some of Atwood's previous work, but it is still a solid and welcome work of fiction. ( )
1 vote NeedMoreShelves | Sep 16, 2019 |
Showing 4 of 4
[...] 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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