The Testaments

The Testaments

Book - 2019 | First edition.
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The Testaments is a modern masterpiece, a powerful novel that can be read on its own or as a companion to Margaret Atwood's classic, The Handmaid's Tale .

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia. Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.

With The Testaments, Margaret Atwood opens up the innermost workings of Gilead, as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.
Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385543781
0385543786
Characteristics: x, 419 pages ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Kaite raved about this follow up to Handmaid's Tale told from three distinct voices of Gilead.

A fantastic companion to "A Handmaid's Tale," this continuation of the lives of those in Gilead fleshes out the world in ways sometimes more horrifying than the first book did. A woeful reminder that even though the first book was published in 1998, the same issues are still eternally r... Read More »


From the critics


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c
ch3rnych3rny
Mar 06, 2021

This book was such a disappointment. It was written to be made into a movie, it seems to me. There is little to none of the depth and subtlety found in The Handmaid’s tale, its predecessor. This is a shallow, plot driven novel. Even the characters, that were so finely and tensely wrought in The Handmaid’s Tale, are dime-store-novella predictable and shallow. Very disappointing. But I am sure it will be a big success as a movie.

a
a2mayer
Dec 30, 2020

The Testaments did not have the same power as the Handmaid’s Tale but it was still worth the read. A nice conclusion to the series.

c
cknightkc
Dec 20, 2020

I’m glad I read THE TESTAMENTS, author Margaret Atwood’s sequel to her dystopian classic, THE HANDMAID’S TALE, and the first half kept my attention. Atwood does a good job developing the 3 main characters and transitioning between their storylines. But ultimately, this book doesn't have the staying powering for me as the original novel or the tv series.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Oct 30, 2020

Being the most awaited book of the year, it's not easy. I can say that most-including my own-negative reactions are primarily based on expectations. The Handmaid's Tale has been a holy ground in the literary world since its publication in 1985, a true modern classic further intensified by the popular show and current political tensions. There couldn't be greater stakes for a sequel, and even for the ever-talented Margaret Atwood, that's a tough performance to deliver. All in all, this is a well-written tale of adventure that extends the creation of the world implied and alluded to by the original. But it's dull as well, mostly unsurprising, and basically feels like a chance to cash in. I despised all the young characters; more specifically. Some 67 percent of the book is narrated by young people. A Middle Grade narrative voice that is jarring and undesired is generated by their lack of maturity. Not inherently unrealistic, just distracting. For pages and pages, their kiddish thoughts go on … Final rating:2/5 @Barcelonafan1 of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

n
nhood1501
Sep 03, 2020

axis 360

m
mclarjh
Aug 10, 2020

Very well organized; well (but not very well) written; often juvenile; and not particularly imaginative; nearly popular detective thriller.

m
Memawrayne
Jul 31, 2020

An interesting way to close and tie up most of the loose ends of the original story. By explaining that some records were destroyed or lost, all things cannot be answered but enough is revealed that the reader feels there was a fairly complete story. Something like this can happen when not enough people stand up to protect individual rights by a small group.

d
darcyhudjik
Jul 27, 2020

This novel is a wonderful follow up of The Handmaid's Tale. The story is very involved, moving, and well written.

r
rab1953
Jul 16, 2020

In spite of my admiration for Atwood’s writing and her thinking, I could not get to like The Testaments. If I’m being generous, I place it in a category of political satires like those of Jonathon Swift – the interest is in the ideas, but less so in the story line or the characters, who are cartoon caricatures instead of anything like real people.
This is disappointing in Atwood, because the characters in her other novels have depth and realistic emotions. Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale was not cartoonish, but invited readers to share in her emotions at the horror of her life. None of the three leads in The Testaments, to say nothing of the minor characters, invite empathy because they feel like sketches that an author might develop while working out the plot for a TV treatment that is not likely to be made. Was Atwood rushed into completing the book before she had time to go back and make the characters real? It feels like it.
This is not to say there is nothing to admire in the book. Atwood’s aphorisms about social life are thoughtful and provocative, and her caustic quips about the hypocrisy and corruption of Gilead are entertaining. Lydia, the senior aunt, ruminates in Atwood’s sharp, ironic, critical voice and that is worth the time. Some incidents, like the abuse of the girls in Gilead, create a sense of what life could be like for powerless young women in our own society. Lydia’s compromises, initially to save her life and later to protect her power in Gilead, illustrate some aspects of how a vicious and violent culture distorts the life and values of its victims. Even the small ways that the powerless girls find to gain some agency and self-protection are a thoughtful illustration of how people survive in our own culture. Generally, though, neither the young girls nor Lydia were convincing as characters from the start through to the end of the novel.
Atwood also makes good points about media and propaganda, literature misrepresented for the users’ own ends. But she also shows that literature is also a defense, allowing readers to discover the truth and manipulation. This is a theme in Atwood’s other writing, and it’s particularly relevant in the Trumpian political period.
However, so many details of the novel just feel wrong – that is to say, they don’t match the pictures I have from other, better writing. The spy story aspects, for example, are superficial and unrealistic compared to anything by John Le Carré. (Really? Sending an untrained child into a police state as an agent and expecting that she will extricate herself?) The capture and torture of the women in the initial revolution is unrealistic compared to what really happened in recent Latin American revolutions, for example, or even to the portrayal in The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m sure that Atwood knows better than this, as she reads widely and comments on these very topics in her political work.
What’s most disappointing to me, however, is the thinness of the ideas she presents here. Aside from shallowly exploring how a senior apparatchik rationalizes her participation, there’s little here that is not presented better in The Handmaid’s Tale, or in a large number of other novels about political dissidence.
In the acknowledgements, Atwood calls this a thought experiment, and that's probably the best way to think of it. It follows the threads of the earlier story in some new ways, but it's not a fully developed exercise (in spite of the many people who seem to have contributed, and the 400 pages). Clearly, many people react viscerally to its depiction of violent patriarchy, but this is a book that should and could have been much better.

d
DianneN
Jul 10, 2020

This is not a kid's book.
Although it is fictional is seems very real and could be an account of many places or times such as when Hitler was around, or what might have happened with slave's by there owner's, or even in 2020 with government trying to change so many things and taking control of people. It feels very real!
If we don't learn from history, we are bound to repeat it!
Enlitening, Scarry, Sorrowful, awful deeds but where they needed? ...
I did have some trouble with the characters going back and forth and trying to figure out who was who.
5 stars
The Hadmaids Tale is a book the goes before this one.

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Quotes

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c
cknightkc
Dec 20, 2020

“As they say, history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” - p.407

c
cknightkc
Dec 20, 2020

“Once a story you’ve regarded as true has turned false, you begin suspecting all stories.” - p.307

c
cknightkc
Dec 20, 2020

“You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you.” - p. 66

m
moyatori
Apr 09, 2020

"Astonishing," I exclaimed. "Not for nothing do we at Ardua Hall say 'Pen Is Envy.'"

n
NadiaHathor
Oct 02, 2019

"There were swings in one of the parks, but because of our skirts, which might be blown up by the wind and then looked into, we were not to think of taking such a liberty as a swing. Only boys could taste that freedom; only they could swoop and soar; only they could be airborne. I've never been on a swing. It remains one of my wishes." Part II - Chapter 3 - pg.16

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