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The Testaments

(10 customer reviews)

$16.95$28.95

by Margaret Atwood

Synopsis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE

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.

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About this book

395 Pages
8 - 9 Hours to read
107k Total words

Description

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE

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.


  • Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; September 2019
  • ISBN: 9780385543798
  • Title: The Testaments
  • Author: Margaret Atwood
  • Imprint: Nan A. Talese
  • Language: English

In The Press

“A chilling invitation no Atwood fan can resist . . . The Testaments reminds us of the power of truth in the face of evil.
People
 
“Margaret Atwood’s powers are on full display . . . Everyone should read The Testaments.
Los Angeles Times
 
A fast, immersive narrative that’s as propulsive as it is melodramatic.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
The Testaments is worthy of the literary classic it continues. That’s thanks in part to Atwood’s capacity to surprise, even writing in a universe we think we know so well.”
USA Today
 
The women of Gilead are more fascinating than ever.
—NPR
 
There may be no novelist better suited to tapping the current era’s anxieties than Margaret Atwood.
Entertainment Weekly
 
Powerful, revealing, and engaging.
—Boston Globe

 
A rare treat . . . a corker of a plot, culminating in a breathless flight to freedom.”
—Laura Miller, Slate.com


About The Author

Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in more than forty-five countries, is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV series, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the FloodMaddAddam; and Hag-Seed. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Franz Kafka Prize, the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award. In 2019, she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature.

Additional information

FORMAT

Hardcover, Paperback

10 reviews for The Testaments

  1. linda galella

    and where am I going? These are the questions, among others, that are answered in the much hyped sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale”, by Margaret Atwood.For the first eight chapters, “The Testaments” is a bit labored. Details are laid out almost like a narrative catalogue. Chapter 8 marks the beginning of Atwood magic and for almost 300 pages, you’re drawn into a first person accounting of the events of the past, (during Handmaid’s)the intervening years and the present days of Agnes Jemima. This portion of the book is pure gold and 5⭐️worthyAt chapter 40, the 1st person POV continues but is now voiced by Nicole and takes on a snarky tone. The action for these next 90 pages is kicked up a few notches and the book ends with what seems like resolution and the overall writing in this section is not as engaging as the last section, imo.This installment of Atwood’s doesn’t require warnings that are as strong as the first one. Violence is not an issue and there is only one very brief sexual encounter with very little description attached. There are references to the duties of a handmaid, but they are fairly obtuse. Language is the only issue that some folks will have a problem with. There are 4-5 f-bombs and a smattering of other expletives 3/10 used for literary accent, not gratuitously.Closing out this volume are the “historical notes to the 13th symposium”. This is a presented as a list of references and narrative to a symposium board by way of evidence/proof to substantiate the document which is “The Testsments”?UPDATE: At the suggestion of two readers, I did look thru this book again to see if my review needed revision and it did in that I’d assigned POV credit to the wrong character. My apologies, that has been corrected. The remainder of my review stands. It has been 35 years since “Handmaid’s Tale” and I’ve not watched the Hulu production. My interest was not peaked by by political application but by human motivation. Why would the Aunts live this way for so long, instruct other young girls in this lifestyle, not look to escape? What motivates them? Did they find peace or love in God or the religious rites? These are not easy answers to find in “The Testament” format ?

  2. Joanna D.

    “Testaments” is the long-awaited sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale” first a bestselling novel by distinguished Canadian author Margaret Atwood and then a wildly successful series based on the book on Hulu.If you expected a “happily ever after” story about “Offred” that isn’t this book. It’s more about the fall of the dystopian and non-functional Gilead from the point of view of some of the women, gender-traitors, who run the regime and also some of the young women born into the system. Haven’t you wondered what a young girl would think of her impending marriage in such a world where women are vessels, not allowed to read and treated as chattel?Best of all in this book is the story of Agnes Jemima, a young girl growing up as a daughter of a Commander and a Wife. She’s an innocent, trying to make sense of the Gilead world where everything is kept secret or is an out-and-out deception. Her simplistic voice is almost like that of Offred in the original Handmaid book, with its cool observation and background of confusion about what went on before or behind her back.Then we get the “autobiography” and first-person story of Aunt Lydia, the moral guardian of the Gilead society. As well as some of the story of the “Underground Female-Road” and the resistance (Mayday Movement) The deeper look into the complex villain Aunt Lydia fleshes out the cartoonish cruel and vicious prison matron picture into something much more interesting. I wondered how such a dysfunctional society bent on execution, control and utter despondency could survive for long, so here is the sequel filling in that story.

  3. M. Henry

    The Testaments is set 15 years after the Handmade’s Tale. The story unfolds in a three-part narrative. Each narrator fills in the gaps of what went on in the preceding 15 years and chronicles their lives in the present. Readers will be updated on their favorite characters and introduced new players in the Gilead saga.The book is an absolute page turner from page one. The prose are beautifully written in a style that readers of Atwood’s work have come to expect. Be prepared to put everything aside as you will not be able to put the book down.One thing that was pretty disappointing is there is almost no mention of June. There were also quite a few plot holes but it was great finding out about how things turned out in Gilead..Hopefully The Testaments will give Hulu a framework for the rest of the Handmaid‘s Tale Series.

  4. Kyrie Robinson

    No suspense or excitement, nowhere NEAR as taut as the first. You learn nothing interesting and new about Gilead. It’s just 3 women that you OUGHT to care about because of who they are, but in reality you do t care about any of them. There’s no character arcs, no journeys, no movement. I can’t believe how many people rate this book highly. Is everyone just stuck in here worship because the first book was so amazing? Probably so.

  5. Sas275

    Compared to her other works, The Testaments is definitely not one of her finer works. The characters felt very one dimensional and lacked any sort of depth or development, the plot line boring and contrived. It felt like something Atwood wrote in response to the popularity of the tv adaptation of The Handmaids Tale, and not actually something she felt passionate about.

  6. C Herbst

    At first, I was a little upset to not be reading any of the characters of the first book. It starts slower than the original book due to having three main characters. It is confusing at first until you start to pick up each of their POV. Towards the end of the book, however, having three POV adds more tension and suspense. I like the author’s double meanings throughout the book. I also feel that this book like the first book is relevant to the current environment. I do appreciate that this book tries to add details of how the regime started and ended. I even liked the ending since I tend to like darker endings to the books I read. This book lives up to its predecessor.

  7. Immanuel Kant

    I downloaded this to my Kindle app @ 3am on the day it was released. I read The Handmaid’s Tale when I was in high school and it changed my life. Needless to say…I’ve been wishing for a sequel and at the age of 34 Atwood has finally granted my wish!!!!Warning SPOILERS ahead!!!The Testaments is very well written (if you enjoy Atwood’s style of prose). It features three alternating narrators. 1. The infamous Aunt Lydia towards the end of her life as she reflects upon what she’s done in her career as the most powerful Aunt in Gilead’s history. 2. June/Offred’s daughter Agnes/Jemima (now a teenager about to be married off to a Commander) that was stolen from her when she and her husband tried to escape and raised by another family. 3. Daisy/Jade who is raised in Canada and entirely unaware the first 16 years of her life that she is actually the infamous baby Nicole that was smuggled out of Gilead thru the efforts of June, Nick, and Mayday.Atwood uses these three narrators to weave three separate stories that eventually come together to answer the questions anyone had after reading The Handmaid’s Tale like “What happened to June?”, “Did June ever see her children again?”, “Who lit the match that set off the events leading to Gilead’s collapse?” etc. The strongest part of the book, where Atwood really shines, is her character Aunt Lydia’s reflections about her life choices. Is she good or bad? Is she a villain or savior? Were her motivations altruistic or selfish? Atwood makes Aunt Lydia’s personality enigmatic enough that the reader is left unsure at the end of the book. The only weak spot, in my opinion, is the idea that a teenage Nicole would’ve voluntarily gone back to Gilead undercover as a “convert” so readily after the death of her adoptive parents in Canada. I didn’t find that part very plausible.Overall…if you loved The Handmaid’s Tale…you’ll love The Testaments.

  8. TinySpork

    I still have my first edition paperback of The Handmaid’s Tale, and I’m happy to have this one as well; I’m grateful that Ms. Atwood gave June’s daughters their voices and more of a voice to an even more important character. It is not The Handmaid’s Tale redux, as I know many are expecting-it is the story of those who came before and after June and helped bring about the fall of Gilead. It’s not as stark and bare as its predecessor; the story, for me, was richer and that’s as it should be-there are many voices telling this story, which in turn brings more color and substance. I can’t wait to read it again, as many times as I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale.

  9. Wonderly

    Yes, I forced myself to read this entire book. Forced is the key word. The writing fell flat. The dialogue is sophomoric. The plot was predictable. The character development was lacking. This does not seem like the work of an award-winning author.

  10. switterbug/Betsey Van Horn

    The passage that jumped out and delighted me most in Atwood’s sequel to HT was said by a traumatized and intelligent adolescent: “God is an imaginary friend.” It fit the context, came off as natural. Other than that, I’m not, unfortunately, a big fan of this book. This sequel also has a context. Thirty-five years ago, I don’t think Atwood even considered writing a follow-up, or finale. It didn’t need one. It wasn’t just a dystopian thriller. It was a What If from a ripe, imaginary mind, and she pulled it off spectacularly. Why undermine it with this unnecessary sell-out? Because of the TV series? I do not see the value in taking a theme and turning it into another theme. What is it with superheroes these days? We have enough of them with capes, webbed feet, and unstoppable knee strength. There were no heroes in Handmaid’s Tale (the book). If Bruce Miller et al. wanted to create one out of June, I was fine with that. The series, to me, was its own story. It continued and embellished on the original but it kept them, in satisfying ways, separate. Now they are joined at the hip. And the spoilers were likely led by the producers, and now the series’ end (and likely going forth with season 4) is now forecast, which comes from writing a “series tie-in book” by a great literary author who went commercial. It comes with baggage, with the acceptance that there’s a denouement and finality to the authoritarian ruthlessness and degradation to women in Gilead. I figure we didn’t need a ham-handed message and we didn’t need it to be written as the bookend to its predecessor. Atwood is capable and has written a Booker winner–The Blind Assassin, which was one of my most beloved of her books. The Testaments is way too on the nose for consideration, imho.There are three narrators—Aunt Lydia, a girl who grew up in Gilead, and a girl who grew up in Canada. Two of the three are more persuasive, but the Canadian girl’s story just descends into mass commercialism to entice mass readers. Not up to what I think of as Atwood’s standards, but more a coopting agreement with the TV series producers. Moreover, the novel turns a juicy villain into a martyred hero for the cause, which is both hackneyed and leaves nothing to the imagination. HT didn’t give answers, it didn’t require them. This novel was too determinate, too plot-based.I kept reading because, no doubt, Atwood can write. But it is impossible to judge this book in a vacuum. If it were a series by a middling author of escapades and thrillers, my expectations would have been met. But, for a writer of Atwood’s caliber, it struck me as a whole cloth sellout. I won’t give less than three stars, simply because of her knack for prose. But as for her ultimately derivative and formula plot, I just can’t go any higher.

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