BOOK REVIEW - 'The Testaments' by Margaret Atwood
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
In this electrifying sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood answers the question that has tantalised readers for decades: What happened to Offred?
Review by Ben Hunter, Booktopia
The Testaments is a very good book.
I haven’t had much sleep with all this excitement and I’m not very coherent but here’s what you need to know …
Yes, this is an incredibly good book, one that’s more than worthy of your readership. It does not, in any way, ruin The Handmaid’s Tale – it compliments it.
One of the biggest doubts about this immensely hyped-up new book was that Margaret Atwood might be leveraging the popularity of the TV-adapted world of Gilead to speak to issues that weren’t at the core of the original novel. This is not the case.
Like its precursor, The Testaments is a superbly articulated speculation on the means by which a modern society could regress into totalitarian theocracy. Atwood vividly imagines how women could survive in this world of extreme misogyny, how they could be transformed into its custodians and enforcers.
The Testaments does not continue the action from moment Offred gets into a van at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale. Instead, it takes you to a time 15 years later, when three women are separately narrating their experiences from inside and outside of Gilead. Readers of the extract released over the weekend will have learned that one of these women is an ageing Aunt Lydia – going inside her interior world of power, secrets and moral distress is frighteningly addictive. I have the bags under my eyes to prove it.
That’s all I’m going to say for now. If you’re on the fence about reading this book, get off it. Don’t wait for water-cooler conversations to turn this story stale. Go get swept up in it for yourself. It’s worthy of its Booker listing and its worthy of you splashing a few dollars for the beautiful hardcover edition.
Don’t let the bastards grind you down.