The Testaments, the highly-anticipated sequel to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale earned its spot on the Booker Prize list earlier this week. And despite the fact that The Testaments is going to get a 500,000 copy first print run, there’s been a strict embargo up until now. However, a flurry of reviews came out just last night. So here at Bookstr, we’re breaking down everything we know about The Testaments right here.
Image via BBc
First off, we know the sequel is set fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale. The original The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a near-future New England, and it tells the story of Offred, a woman forcibly assigned to produce children for the ruling class of men of a theocratic military regime that’s overthrown the U.S. government.
Agnes, a girl in Gilead who from a young age rejects marriage, though her parents intend to marry her to a powerful Commander. Daisy is a Canadian girl repulsed by Gilead, raised by strangely overprotective parents. And Aunt Lydia — yes, that Aunt Lydia — has near-godlike status as one of Gilead’s founding Aunts and spends her days quietly collecting dirt on Commanders and fellow Aunts.
In an interesting turn of events, it seems Aunt Lydia might not be quite the cheerleader she was made out to be in The Handmaid’s Tale. Now that readers get to see Lydia from a different perspective, it seems they’ll get to see a completely different side of her.
Image via Daily Express
The Testaments‘ plot is NOT connected to the television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. The original book, published in 1985, ends roughly where the events of the first season of the adaptation ends. But the Hulu series has pressed on beyond Atwood’s original story. While Atwood’s new novel and the TV series might not be too connected, Atwood builds on key events from the series in the construction of her follow-up — specifically, the foundation that June has laid for the fall of Gilead.
Atwood further expands on the world of Gilead she created nearly thirty-five years earlier. In The Testaments, readers will learn about the Pearl Girls, the Aunt training program in which young girls are sent abroad as missionaries wearing fake pearls. Readers will also discover more about Gilead’s unsettling marriage customs and how the Aunt program even got started.
In an interview with Atwood for Time magazine, Lucy Feldman writes:
[Atwood] sees her role as the person who drops a flare on the highway — she wrote the new book in part because she worries the world is trending more toward Gilead than away from it.
While no one can be sure of what the future holds, one can’t deny Atwood’s fiction about Gilead has taken on a new light in recent years. And one thing is for sure: Atwood’s The Testaments is sure to shock and inspire as much as The Handmaid’s Tale continues to today. There’s already an excerpt you can read right now! Seriously, do yourself a favor and check out this first look at The Testaments. You can even listen to Atwood herself reading it!
Featured image via The Guardian