“The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood is a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. The book consists of the memoirs or testimonials of three women.
One of those women ist Aunt Lydia who tells the story of how she became one of the female leaders of Gilead and how she lives in the time she’s writing her diary.
The second woman is the daughter of a handmaid who is raised as the daughter of a commander and his wife. She’s most likely the daughter of the handmaid from the first book. At first she describes the life of a girl born and conditioned to the customs of Gilead. But then her foster mother dies and the commander marries a new woman. Life changes dramatically for the girl who enjoyed the Gilead variant of upper class life.
The third one lives in Canada and at first observes Gilead from the outside.
All three stories are told alternately. At first the stories are separate but at one point all three women meet and interact and the stories converge and tell one story from three different perspectives.
“The Testaments” provides a deeper look into the working of the Gilead regime and the resistance movement.
The three testimonials end with a positive outlook, but as with the first book, there is also a final chapter where people on a symposium some 200 years later discuss those latest documents. The names of those people don’t sound western. They could be Chinese, Japanese or maybe Korean. So it probably didn’t end well with Gilead, Canada and the other western nations. Did it escalate in a war or did they just die off because of that infertility which among other reasons led to the creation of Gilead? There is room for another sequel. I wonder if Atwood will write it or if she leaves it up to the speculation of the readers.
I’ve read some reviews stating that Atwood lost her talent as a writer and that she wrote a boring and superfluous book. I’ve read this book directly after “The Handmaid’s Tale” and can attest that it is as well written as the first one. I liked the expanded view into Gilead and how she presented it with those three distinct perspectives. As with the first I recommend this one as a gripping and well-written book.