Cover of the first edition
|Audio read by||Ann Dowd|
Bryce Dallas Howard
|Cover artist||Noma Bar / Dutch Uncle|
|Genre||Science fiction, Dystopian fiction|
|Publisher||Nan A. Talese / Doubleday|
|September 10, 2019|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Preceded by||The Handmaid's Tale|
The Testaments is a 2019 novel by Margaret Atwood. It is a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale (1985). The novel's events occur fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale. The novel is narrated by Aunt Lydia, a character from the previous novel; Agnes, a young woman living in Gilead; and Daisy, a young woman living in Canada.
The novel's key protagonists are Agnes, an orphan adopted by a Gileadean family who is preparing to assume her assigned role as the wife of a commander at the start of the novel; and Daisy, who was smuggled out of Gilead and lives in Toronto with adoptive parents who own a vintage clothing store in the Queen Street West neighborhood. Both Agnes and Daisy are daughters of Offred, the protagonist of The Handmaid's Tale. Both women were raised without any knowledge of their origin or of each other.
The third protagonist, Lydia, was a key antagonist in The Handmaid's Tale. She chronicles her life in an illicit manuscript, including details of her life before Gilead, and how she came to be made an Aunt. She also meditates on the inner workings of Gilead's theonomy, its hypocrisy, and endemic corruption. Lydia's manuscript is later published as The Ardua Hall Holograph, also known as "The Testaments", whose provenance is in question. There is an identical response to Offred's recordings of her experience as a handmaid which were published as "The Handmaid's Tale". Aunt Lydia is portrayed in The Testaments as a woman who accepts that she must do what is necessary to stay alive, but quietly tries to work within the system to pursue a measure of justice and fairness and compassion.
The novel is framed by a lecture read by Professor James Darcy Pieixoto at the 13th Symposium on Gileadean Studies, in 2197. The Handmaid's Tale is framed by Pieixoto's lecture at the Gileadean Symposium in 2195.
Serena Davies of The Daily Telegraph described The Testaments as "a lurid and powerful sequel." She concluded "Atwood has given us a blockbuster of propulsive, almost breathless narrative, stacked with twists and turns worthy of a Gothic novel."
In an interview by Martha Teichner, for CBS News Sunday Morning, Atwood insisted the novel contains "tons of hope— lots and lots of hope" when questioned about the premise. Michiko Kakutani, writing for The New York Times, contrasts Atwood's thesis of writing one's testimony being an "act of hope", against the "the pompous, myopic Gileadean scholars who narrate the satirical epilogues" of both The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments.
Relationship to television series
The novel includes some details that were created specifically for the television series, such as the Agnes and Baby Nicole storylines. Because The Testaments is set fifteen years after the original novel, the setting of the television series is several years away from directly portraying events from of the second novel.
Audio book. The book was serialised in 15 quarter-hour episodes by the BBC Radio 4 (Book at Bedtime) in October 2019
- Rubins, Jennifer (September 10, 2019). "Watch THE TESTAMENTS audiobook narrators (including Aunt Lydia herself) discuss Margaret Atwood". Books on Tape. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
- Stelter, Brian (2018-11-18). "Margaret Atwood is writing a 'Handmaid's Tale' sequel". CNN. Retrieved 2018-11-28.
- Grady, Constance (2019-09-04). "Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale sequel is a giddy thrill ride". Vox. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
- Flood, Alison (2019-10-14). "Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo share Booker prize 2019". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-10-14.
- Desta, Yohana (2019-09-04). "Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale Sequel: Offred's Daughters Tell Their Stories". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
- Davies, Serena (2019-09-04). "The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, first look review: a lurid and powerful sequel to The Handmaid's Tale". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
- Teichner, Martha (2019-09-08). ""The Handmaid's Tale" author Margaret Atwood on her new sequel, "The Testaments"". CBS Sunday Morning. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
- Kakutani, Michiko (2019-09-03). "The Handmaid's Thriller: In 'The Testaments,' There's a Spy in Gilead". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
- Mellor, Louisa (2019-07-31). "The Handmaid's Tale: how will Atwood's book sequel affect the TV show?". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
- The Testaments at LibraryThing
- The Testaments title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
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