The Testaments

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The Testaments
The Testaments (Atwood novel).png
Cover of the first edition
AuthorMargaret Atwood
CountryCanada
LanguageEnglish
PublisherMcClelland & Stewart[1]
Publication date
September 10, 2019
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
Pages432
ISBN978-0771009433
Preceded byThe Handmaid's Tale 

The Testaments is a 2019 novel by Margaret Atwood.[2] A sequel to her The Handmaid's Tale (1985),[3] the novel takes place 15 years after Offred's final scene in the original novel, and is narrated by three female characters: Aunt Lydia, a key character in The Handmaid's Tale; Agnes, a young woman living in Gilead; and Daisy, a young woman in Canada who is horrified by Gilead's abuses of human rights.[4]

The younger women are Offred's two daughters;[5] Agnes, who was adopted by a Gileadan family after being captured and taken from Offred, is being prepared for her assigned role as the future wife of a commander, while Daisy, who was smuggled out of Gilead, was placed for adoption with a couple who owned a used clothing store in the Queen Street West neighbourhood of Toronto, and was raised without knowledge of either the truth of her origins or the existence of her sister.[4]

Release[edit]

The novel was published on September 10, 2019.[6] In advance of its publication, it was named to the shortlist for the 2019 Booker Prize,[7] and the longlist for the 2019 Giller Prize.[8] This was possible because both awards permit the nomination of books that have not yet been published at the time of the initial nomination lists, but will have been released to stores by the time of the award ceremony;[6] however, to prevent a premature leak of the review copies sent to judges, the judges were required to sign non-disclosure agreements and their review copies were individually watermarked with their names so that the source could be directly identified if their copies were leaked to the public.[9]

Despite the strict embargo on the novel being released or reviewed prior to September 10, several hundred customers of Amazon reported receiving their pre-ordered copies in the week of September 2.[10] Amazon apologized for the incident, calling it "a technical error";[11] however, several independent bookstores spoke out to criticize the inequities in the bookselling industry, noting that if they had violated the embargo they would likely have been punished with delayed shipments of major future releases, whereas Amazon will likely face no serious consequences due to its size and power.[12]

Relationship to television series[edit]

The novel does include some details, including both Agnes and the Baby Nichole storyline, that were introduced in the television series adaptation, The Handmaid's Tale, rather than the original novel.

Because the book is set 15 years after the original novel, the television adaptation is still several years away from being able to directly portray the events of The Testaments; however, Bruce Miller, the showrunner of the television series adaptation has acknowledged that the new novel's storyline will be taken into account as the show is written.[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Serena Davies of The Daily Telegraph described The Testaments as "a lurid and powerful sequel," writing that "Atwood has given us a blockbuster of propulsive, almost breathless narrative, stacked with twists and turns worthy of a Gothic novel."[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Testaments by Margaret Atwood". Penguin Random House Canada.
  2. ^ "Margaret Atwood announces sequel to The Handmaid's Tale". CBC News, November 28, 2018.
  3. ^ "Margaret Atwood's sequel to 'The Handmaid's Tale' will be released in 2019". CNN, November 28, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale sequel is a giddy thrillride". Vox, September 4, 2019.
  5. ^ "Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale Sequel: Offred’s Daughters Tell Their Stories". Vanity Fair, September 4, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Embargoed Atwood Novel Makes Booker Longlist". Publishers Weekly, July 24, 2019.
  7. ^ Sian Cain, "Booker prize: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale sequel makes shortlist". The Guardian, September 3, 2019.
  8. ^ "Margaret Atwood, Andre Alexis among 12 authors up for $100,000 Giller book prize". Toronto Star, September 3, 2019.
  9. ^ Rozina Sabur, "Margaret Atwood's sequel to The Handmaid's Tale accidentally sent out early to US readers". The Daily Telegraph, September 4, 2019.
  10. ^ "Margaret Atwood's The Testaments gets early release — by accident". CBC News, September 4, 2019.
  11. ^ "Amazon sorry for sending Atwood's The Testaments out early". BBC News. September 5, 2019.
  12. ^ Simon Haupt, "Smaller bookstores speak out after Amazon ships 800 copies of Atwood’s Testaments early". The Globe and Mail, September 4, 2019.
  13. ^ "The Handmaid’s Tale: how will Atwood’s book sequel affect the TV show?". Den of Geek, July 31, 2019.
  14. ^ "The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, first look review: a lurid and powerful sequel to The Handmaid's Tale". The Daily Telegraph, September 4, 2019.