ABOUT THE BOOK:
In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.
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 for her–freedom, prison or death.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen 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
“You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you.”
I don’t think there is a greater pleasure in reading, than experiencing a Margaret Atwood book narrated by the likes of Ann Dowd, Bryce Dallas Howard and Mae Whitman! I put off diving into this book because ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ remains one of the most unforgettable stories I have ever read. This sequel to that book focuses on the horrors of the current Gilead, some years in the future after the events of the first book. There has been a whole generation of girls who have grown up in Gilead, and who know nothing different than violence and persecution. But for them, this is their normal.
The Testaments is told through three points of views. One of them is Baby Nicole, who now lives in Canada and is an internationally-known figure. The other is Aunt Lydia, and the final one is Agnes, a young woman who has grown up in Gilead and in an almost neutral voice, describes the everyday horror of Gilead: rape, execution and violence against the citizens, especially women. Aunt Lydia’s chapters are the most fascinating: how did a seemingly ordinary and educated woman become such a monster?
“And how easily a hand becomes a fist.”
Ordinary people became swept up in the totalitarian regime and extreme religious persecution that swept through what was once the United States of America. Margaret Atwood has an uncanny ability to take current events and expand upon them to predict the future. Men rule Gilead with an iron fist and citizens are turned against each other. Women are kept repressed through illiteracy and arcane laws against abortion and clothing.
The ability for free thinking and individually is of course forbidden in Gilead. Propaganda rules the day. The contrast between the oppressive regime and free societies is seen though the eyes of narrators from Canada, the place where people escape to from Gilead.
One of the most chilling aspects of this story was they way in which women’ voices were silenced. In Gilead, four women equal the testimony of one man. It is easy to compare how dangerous religious zealots become when put into positions of power. One cannot hep but compare the events of today with the stories told in ‘The Testaments’.
Aunt Lydia’s narration is the most surprising and the most enlightening. Whether you can sympathize with her or not, her story is both tragic, violent and at times, sharply funny. An educated woman before the overthrow of the United States, she has used her intelligence and wits to survive. She was once a family court judge and now has become a symbol of the violently repressive Gilead regime. She of watched as many of her colleagues were captured, tortured and executed all in the name of the new fanatical regime.
“All that was necessary was a law degree and a uterus: a lethal combination.”
I can’t stop thinking about this story and its main characters. ‘The Testaments’ is a fast-paced, smartly-written and extremely thrilling tale that is more than thought-provoking. It is a must-read story for our modern times.
“As they say, history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.”