It’s rare that I pre-order books ahead of release, but The Testaments by Margaret Atwood was an exception. I’m glad I did too! Not only was I eagerly awaiting it for months, but it’s unique in that it has been written thirty years after its predecessor, The Handmaid’s Tale.
I was super excited to get my hands on this in paperback the day of release. I even joked that day that I had subconsciously dressed in the colours of the cover! When I went to go and get my copy though, my day got better. Waterstones stores had one signed copy each, and one person who pre-ordered won the competition to that copy. I wouldn’t count myself as lucky, but I do that day. I won the signed edition!
The Testaments – Margaret Atwood
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.
In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.
“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
I’m glad Margaret Atwood didn’t try to emulate The Handmaid’s Tale too much. Trying to write a book in the same setting thirty years on just wouldn’t have been the same. It would have been disappointing. Furthermore, I really enjoyed exploring how Gilead’s society had progressed since the first book!
Having multiple narrators struck me as unusual when I first picked up the book – especially since The Handmaid’s Tale gives us just one perspective. Having read the book though, it works. It’s necessary too. There is no one person with all the information needed to tell of Gilead’s future. Each narrative voice is clear and identifiable from each other. Having each different perspective breaks up the story nicely. The length of each chapter is perfect to include all the action needed, but short enough to keep luring you in with “just one more”.
I feel sorry for this book in a way as it has a lot of poor reviews. Why? Because it isn’t a regurgitation of The Handmaid’s Tale… that it’s different. I feel like these people really don’t appreciate the sentiment behind the novel at all. You all have missed the point! Is The Testaments a necessary follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale? Perhaps not. It is fitting though. Society in 1985 was a lot different than it is today. We have far more freedom to be who we are without repression from others. Society isn’t static so why expect Gilead to be in a time warp? The fact is, the changes in Gilead and personal perspectives mirror the kind of changes in our own society.
I think The Testaments is the kind of book you are either going to love or hate. To be expected, I suppose. High profile books are often hit or miss on how well people rate them. Normally I am disappointed, but not with this one! I hope you readers love it as much as I did.