The Testaments

The Testaments

Large Print - 2019
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#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.
Publisher: New York : Random House Large Print, ©2019.
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9780593149096
Characteristics: 562 pages ;,24 cm.

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s
sasie
May 21, 2020

Well it's not Handmaid's Tale but I thought it was still pretty darn good. If you drop the idea of a comparison before you begin, I think you will enjoy the story.

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moyatori
Apr 09, 2020

It's been too long since I read the Handmaid's Tale, but while this book was a delight to read (if "delight" can describe a dystopian novel), it didn't quite carry the same depth of emotion. Loved the Aunt Lydia parts, appreciated Agnes' narration, and gradually grew to dislike the Daisy bits. There might be things about the characters and their plots that are rather unconvincing, but if you're an imaginative enough reader, you'll be alright. It was enjoyable overall, and I would recommend it to anyone who has lingering questions about the Handmaid's Tale.

CALS_Lee Apr 09, 2020

It’s definitely not what I was expecting. It's a breezy thriller, I'd say. The primary bad guy, Commander Judd, as physically described by Atwood resembles Santa Claus, if Santa took a really bad turn down the road of totalitarian patriarchy (don’t do it, Santa!). An image of a demented Santa, for me, brings an air of the ridiculous to the proceedings. One of Judd’s characteristics is that he’s only interested in teenage girls: marry one, go a few years, kill her, repeat. Horrible but treated with a touch of the slapstick by Atwood (“rat poison? It’s so easily detectable,” the central character and antihero Aunt Lydia muses. Yes, disappointingly sloppy, Santa).

On the positive side, it’s well paced, and kept me turning the pages. It flew by for being a 400 page novel in the hands of a slow reader. Aunt Lydia is the sort of Machiavellian character it’s enjoyable to encounter in fiction (if only we could keep them all there).

I appreciated how it agreed with Nabokov’s take on totalitarianism: that it is marked more by the ineptness and buffoonery of those in power than by any impressive calculating evil.

I get the sense, reinforced by Atwood’s acknowledgements here, this was just written for the entertainment of people who have enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale in its written and televised formats, and not so much because it was a novel that was demanding to be written, so to speak. It exists because there was an eager market for it that didn’t call for it to be very “literary”. Which is fine of course. But that it was a co-winner of the Booker Prize is much less understandable.

s
sgcf
Mar 21, 2020

It is clear that, in shaping her sequel, Atwood drew on the current Trumpian regime and the #MeToo backlash against patriarchal injustice. I liked that this book was more plot-driven by the three female narrators who recorded events in their journals (their testaments/holographs), that the elder becomes a double agent, and that the other two are young – the new generation rising up. We learn more about Gilead’s history and Canada’s response. Despite the last part seeming rather hurried, here’s a sense of hope, and a sense of the world turning on the same themes.

WCL_Rosie Mar 20, 2020

A satisfying follow-up for those who finished The Handmaid's Tale and weren't quite done with the story. Margaret Atwood not only explores the horrifying creation of the "Aunt" ideology, but also the infiltration of Gilead that leads to it's downfall. Morally compromised Aunt Lydia is an unexpected ally to the two teenage protagonists who fuel most of the action in this sequel.

s
siqinp
Mar 07, 2020

This is not literary greatness... Far from it! At best it reads like a young adult fiction, a mild suspense novel. This is the type of sequel that adds nothing significant to the great novel that was The Handmaid's Tale. I really wonder what were Margaret Atwood's motivations when she wrote this? Anyway, be prepared for one-dimensional characters, except perhaps for Aunt Lydia. Also be prepared for a non-sensical story line. Why would someone need a human carrier to transmit secret information abroad when she already had a much safer way to do it? And why would a corrupt dictature collapse because of the revelation of said corruption to the world... I don't see this happening anywhere in the world. All in all, I was extremely disapointed. It would have been better to leave The Handmaid's Tale as a stand alone book. Much better!

k
knradach
Mar 07, 2020

I agree the book was a little hokey, and highly predictable. But for someone who likes to have a pretty bow on things, I was interested in what had become of all the characters from the original book (and of course the Hulu TV series) -- The Handmaid's Tale. Overall a quick and enjoyable read from three points of view, June's two daughters and Aunt Lydia.

k
kawidman
Mar 05, 2020

Holy unnecessary sequel, Batman!! I can’t think of a gentle way to start talking about this book, so what I’ll say is this book is what might happen if someone took a hard long look at what really worked well about The Handmaid’s Tale and said “okay but what if we did the opposite of that?” A thing you should understand about this book is that it’s much less a sequel to the 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale than it is a companion novel to the Hulu adaptation show The Handmaid’s Tale, and as such has a whole bunch of corniness, confusing world-building, and hard hitting questions that no one was asking, such as “what if Aunt Lydia was good, actually?”

What I will say for the book is that Atwood remains a skilled and engaging writer, capable of making even a deeply flawed narrative feel alive.

l
luwilmot
Mar 05, 2020

Ch 9 p. 47

m
Mersenne5
Feb 21, 2020

This book has brought back my love of reading. The writing is superb, and the story is a page-turner. I read The Handmaid's Tale when it came out, saw the movie, and am now watching the series on TV starring Elizabeth Moss. The Testaments carries forward the stories of Offred's two daughters and Aunt Lydia. My only tiny criticism is that Gilead is described as a "Puritan theocracy." In fact, the Puritans in America created a more just society among people of European ancestry than the European society they'd left behind. That's not saying much by today's standards, but still. The subject of the Puritan treatment of Indigenous People is another subject, and a tragic one.

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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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