Review of ‘The Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood

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.

13 thoughts on “Review of ‘The Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood”

  1. Surprised you didn’t like the Handmaid’s Tale – I know it is heavily hyped a lot but it is a chilling portrait of what could happen to women’s rights.

    1. I don’t ‘like’ the book but I do appreciate it – and the chilling content of it is one of the reasons it’s not exactly an enjoyable experience. It’s a must-read, I would agree on that, but I find it too disturbing to read again.

    1. Thanks! I know you enjoyed it 🙂 I didn’t really see anything to dislike about it.

  2. I wasn’t that keen on The Handmaid’s Tale either. Interesting that you liked The Testaments better, perhaps I should give it a try.

    1. It’s worth reading the once, I think, providing you’re interested in the concept and you want to see if it’s worth the hype 🙂

  3. I’ve just finished reading this, too. I don’t think it The Testaments will be as memorable as The Handmaid’s Tale. I liked that the story answered some of the questions that were left unanswered from the first book.

    1. I like that it answered some questions too and although it’s not as memorable is definitely worth reading.

  4. Glad to hear that you liked it! I found The Testaments too tiring and the writing wasn’t as strong as I expected but perhaps I had set my expectations too high. Great review 🙂

    1. The book had so much to live up to, The Handmaid’s Tale being so famous and influential, that some readers were bound to be disappointed! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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