Praise be. The sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale is an excellent read. I have to confess I’m not a huge fan of The Handmaid’s Tale; I appreciate the book and have read it twice but am unlikely to re-read. However, The Testaments jointly won the Booker Prize last year, it’s had a lot of hype and it just happened to be available as an e-book from my library. I decided that I had to try it.
The story is set in the same totalitarian state, Gilead (formerly part of the US), in the future. It’s a dystopia in which oppression of women is justified by religious fervour. There are three narrators, although at first I was confused as to who they were and whether they were all meant to be the same person. Eventually I understood. I found the writing style gripping, although I felt it flagged a little in the middle before ramping up to a tense and fast-paced conclusion. I won’t say what the story is about, in case of spoilers. It was a rewarding read, well-crafted and exploring issues still as relevant today as when Atwood first wrote The Handmaid’s Tale.
I would definitely recommend The Testaments if you want to find out more about the workings of Gilead, its relationship with Canada and whether the regime is brought down. I can’t comment on whether it’s worthy of the Booker Prize, as I haven’t read any of the other contenders except for My Sister the Serial Killer and The Wall, both of which were longlisted.
First published in 2019.