The Testaments

Margaret Atwood

 
The Testaments
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The Testaments

Margaret Atwood

Every purchase of the hardback edition of The Testaments will receive a giveaway copy of Freedom, also by Atwood, from the Vintage minis range. This special offer is available online and in all our shops, and will run until stock of Freedom runs out. 

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

Review

A disclaimer before I begin – I read this book very quickly, and these are my first impressions. And there are minor spoilers below, so if you’d prefer to be a blank slate for this book, read no further!

The Testaments has been pitched as one of the great literary events of 2019, with a hugely hyped marketing campaign, a strict embargo, and even a pre-release Booker Prize shortlisting. All of this excitement is totally warranted: this is a fantastic, immersive book that will have both Atwood die-hards and lovers of the TV adaption of The Handmaid’s Tale under its spell.

The Testaments is set around fifteen years after The Handmaid’s Tale. This return to the world of Gilead has three narrators: the infamous Aunt Lydia, a Canadian teenager who comes to learn she was actually born in Gilead, and a young woman from a well-off family who narrowly escapes being married off to a Commander by becoming an Aunt instead. Like The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments is styled as a collection of historical documents (and yes, we do return to the post-Gilead academic conference setting!), consisting of witness statements from two characters, and an illicitly written manuscript by the other.

Atwood has always said that nothing went into the creation of Gilead that had no precedent in real life, and she echoes this sentiment in the author’s note at the end of The Testaments. This is a dystopia with a strong anchor in reality – climate crisis, religious extremism, and deadly misogyny are all evils that negatively influence the world we’re living in today. But while undoubtedly dark, this is a much more hopeful novel than its predecessor. I won’t give too much away, but the revolutionary spirit of Offred carries over to The Testaments. I would go so far to say that, in its own odd way, this is quite an uplifting novel that bolstered my feminist heart.

I genuinely loved this book, and I’m going to have to go back and read it again more slowly, more carefully, and with more attention to Atwood’s delightful writing (although even read at speed, her superb handle on voice and character is unmistakable). This is a sequel that delivers, and is actually, truly unmissable.


Ellen Cregan is the marketing and events coordinator.

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