The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The testments

Curiosity got the best of me so I decided to read “The Testaments,” Margaret Atwood’s follow up from her novel “The Handmaids Tale,” written 30 years ago. The book was so popular back in 1985 that a 1990 film version was made and recently a 2017 TV series was adopted because everyone wanted to know what happened to the state called Gilead. At the end of the book, the authoritarian racist state had not been brought to its knees.

The Testaments provides a clear picture of what eventually happened 15 years later. If you want to have an understanding of what’s happening in The Testaments you can read the prequel “The Handmaids Tale” or watch the first season of “The Handmaids Tale” TV series. The first season follows the book closely so you will get the idea of wants at stake. The only caveat is the TV series cleaned up post racist Gilead into a more diverse living hell for all women.

For those that have not read The Handmaids Tale in any format, here is a short synopsis: In a not too far future, the United States slowly took away the rights of women. No jobs, no bank accounts, no passports, no drivers licenses or the right to leave the state. Birth rates were very low so fertile young women were forced to become ‘handmaids’ – sexual slaves serving as a surrogate for high ranking commanders wives that could not conceive. The oppressed women won some battles but the dystopian United States was still in power at the end of the book. The Testaments does not pick up where the Handmaids Tale ends, but rather tells of its downfall 15 years later through the eyes of 3 overlapping narratives.

The first POV is from Nicole, now 16. She was just a baby when she was taken from her mother and given to a commanders wife, as a symbol as status. She escaped Gilead and is living in Canada under another name.

The second POV is from Agnes. On the TV series, she was called Hannah and was born from a forced encounter. Like Nicole, she was taken from the biological mother and is given to a commanders wife. Hannah grew up in the world of Gilead and only knows that authoritarian way of life.

The third POV is from Aunt Lydia, the unforgiving enforcer aunt that imposed Gilead’s rules on the handmaids with a vengeance. We come to see that Aunt Lydia has become a collaborator ‘under his eye’ raising up in power, acknowledged in the form of a statue in her honor. Aunt Lydia is hated by many but details of her backstory paint a picture of a woman trying to survive like the handmaids.

The theme of the Testaments is about women slowly chipping away at the foundation of Gilead and the mystery of who is the high ranking mole in Gilead, working with the resistance called mayday to bring down Gilead.

This novel is for fans of the film, book and TV series. If not a fan, give it a pass. If you are, The Testaments gets a 4-star rating for giving the fans what they wanted.

4-star-rating

  One thought on “The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

  1. October 4, 2019 at 1:06 am

    I’m a huge fan of Margaret Atwood’s novels. She is such a wonderful writer.
    I read The Handmaid’s Tale years and years ago, but some of the images still stayed with me. I watched the first series and it was quite compelling, but not the same without Atwood’s amazing prose.
    I’ll be getting The Testaments once it’s out in paperback 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. October 2, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Oooo, I wouldn’t mind giving it a read. I’ve been watching the TV series and quite enjoy it, but I’ve never read the novel. Curiosity may just get the better of me, too! Neat review of this, very concise. I’m pretty sure I’ve also heard the rumour of the Testaments being considered for TV. Watch this space..! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 2, 2019 at 11:32 am

      The fan base is big enough to create a Testaments TV series. We’ll see what the network does. 🙂

      Like

  3. September 30, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    I haven’t watched the show but I did read The Handmaid’s Tale just a month or so ago and was really pulled into the book. Imagine my shock and surprise when I realized a few days later that the author was about to publish a sequel! I haven’t gotten to buy this one yet but I definitely want to because I have to know what happened after the ending of The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m so glad I read your review because now I’m even more excited to get my hands on it. I’m anxious to read from the other three POVs. Great post, Darnell!

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 30, 2019 at 1:34 pm

      Those POVs are powerful. Hope you enjoy the book. It is perfect timing for you to pick up 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. September 28, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Looks like an interesting read

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 28, 2019 at 4:11 pm

      It is but you should read The Handmaid’s Tale before reading The Testaments to understand the complete story.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. September 27, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Thanks for this. I read the Handmaid’s Tale last year and watched the first two seasons a few months ago. I don’t think I will continue with the TV series but I’ve been interested in reading this book. I just though the series should have taken a different path and I was getting annoyed with the main character.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 27, 2019 at 11:36 am

      The TV series deviated from the book at the start of season 2. By season 3 the main character has become bold, outspoken, and takes unbelievable risks that could not be done in the book. Season 4 has been green lighted but I think the directors will scale her down some.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. September 27, 2019 at 8:54 am

    I only watched the first episode of the Handmaid’s Tale on TV and it made me shiver. I haven’t been back since. Sadly in some parts of the world women are still treated like objects. Thank you for this great review of both works 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. inkbiotic
    September 27, 2019 at 1:18 am

    I’m glad you wrote about this, because I was wondering what the Testaments was.
    I read the Handmaid’s Tale many years ago, then watched the first couple of series recently, but the latest series I haven’t got around to – not exactly happy-happy watching, and I haven’t built myself up to it yet!
    Did you felt The Testaments added anything to the first book? Was there any resolution or sense of change? I think that was my biggest problem with THT, it was all so hopeless. And I get that is the point – a societal mess like that doesn’t just resolve, but there’s a point where I need to escape, even if the characters can’t.

    Liked by 2 people

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