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The Testaments: A Novel Kindle Edition
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- Book 2 of 2 in The Handmaid's Tale
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“Margaret Atwood’s powers are on full display . . . Everyone should read The Testaments.”
—Los Angeles Times
“A fast, immersive narrative that’s as propulsive as it is melodramatic.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“The Testaments is worthy of the literary classic it continues. That’s thanks in part to Atwood’s capacity to surprise, even writing in a universe we think we know so well.”
“The women of Gilead are more fascinating than ever.”
“There may be no novelist better suited to tapping the current era’s anxieties than Margaret Atwood.”
“Powerful, revealing, and engaging.”
—The Boston Globe
“A rare treat . . . a corker of a plot, culminating in a breathless flight to freedom.”
—Laura Miller, Slate
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Only dead people are allowed to have statues, but I have been given one while still alive. Already I am petrified.
This statue was a small token of appreciation for my many contributions, said the citation, which was read out by Aunt Vidala. She’d been assigned the task by our superiors, and was far from appreciative. I thanked her with as much modesty as I could summon, then pulled the rope that released the cloth drape shrouding me; it billowed to the ground, and there I stood. We don’t do cheering here at Ardua Hall, but there was some discreet clapping. I inclined my head in a nod.
My statue is larger than life, as statues tend to be, and shows me as younger, slimmer, and in better shape than I’ve been for some time. I am standing straight, shoulders back, my lips curved into a firm but benevolent smile. My eyes are fixed on some cosmic point of reference understood to represent my idealism, my unflinching commitment to duty, my determination to move forward despite all obstacles. Not that anything in the sky would be visible to my statue, placed as it is in a morose cluster of trees and shrubs beside the footpath running in front of Ardua Hall. We Aunts must not be too presumptuous, even in stone.
Clutching my left hand is a girl of seven or eight, gazing up at me with trusting eyes. My right hand rests on the head of a woman crouched at my side, her hair veiled, her eyes upturned in an expression that could be read as either craven or grateful—one of our Handmaids—and behind me is one of my Pearl Girls, ready to set out on her missionary work. Hanging from a belt around my waist is my Taser. This weapon reminds me of my failings: had I been more effective, I would not have needed such an implement. The persuasion in my voice would have been enough.
As a group of statuary it’s not a great success: too crowded. I would have preferred more emphasis on myself. But at least I look sane. It could well have been otherwise, as the elderly sculptress—a true believer since deceased—had a tendency to confer bulging eyes on her subjects as a sign of their pious fervour. Her bust of Aunt Helena looks rabid, that of Aunt Vidala is hyperthyroid, and that of Aunt Elizabeth appears ready to explode.
At the unveiling the sculptress was nervous. Was her renditionof me sufficiently flattering? Did I approve of it? Would I be seen toapprove? I toyed with the idea of frowning as the sheet came off, butthought better of it: I am not without compassion. “Very lifelike,” Isaid.
That was nine years ago. Since then my statue has weathered:pigeons have decorated me, moss has sprouted in my damper crevices.Votaries have taken to leaving offerings at my feet: eggs forfertility, oranges to suggest the fullness of pregnancy, croissants toreference the moon. I ignore the breadstuffs—usuallythey havebeen rained on—butpocket the oranges. Oranges are so refreshing.
* * *
I write these words in my private sanctum within the library of Ardua Hall—one of the few libraries remaining after the enthusiastic book-burnings that have been going on across our land. The corrupt and blood-smeared fingerprints of the past must be wiped away to create a clean space for the morally pure generation that is surely about to arrive. Such is the theory.
But among these bloody fingerprints are those made by ourselves, and these can’t be wiped away so easily. Over the years I’ve buried a lot of bones; now I’m inclined to dig them up again—if only for your edification, my unknown reader. If you are reading, this manuscript at least will have survived. Though perhaps I’m fantasizing: perhaps I will never have a reader. Perhaps I’ll only be talking to the wall, in more ways than one.
That’s enough inscribing for today. My hand hurts, my back aches, and my nightly cup of hot milk awaits me. I’ll stash this screed in its hiding place, avoiding the surveillance cameras—I know where they are, having placed them myself. Despite such precautions, I’m aware of the risk I’m running: writing can be dangerous. What betrayals, and then what denunciations, might lie in store for me? There are several within Ardua Hall who would love to get their hands on these pages.
Wait, I counsel them silently: it will get worse. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- File size : 2462 KB
- Publication date : September 10, 2019
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 381 pages
- Publisher : Anchor (September 10, 2019)
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B07KVLPYDQ
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,715 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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For the first eight chapters, “The Testaments” is a bit labored. Details are laid out almost like a narrative catalogue. Chapter 8 marks the beginning of Atwood magic and for almost 300 pages, you’re drawn into a first person accounting of the events of the past, (during Handmaid’s)the intervening years and the present days of Agnes Jemima. This portion of the book is pure gold and 5⭐️worthy
At chapter 40, the 1st person POV continues but is now voiced by Nicole and takes on a snarky tone. The action for these next 90 pages is kicked up a few notches and the book ends with what seems like resolution and the overall writing in this section is not as engaging as the last section, imo.
This installment of Atwood’s doesn’t require warnings that are as strong as the first one. Violence is not an issue and there is only one very brief sexual encounter with very little description attached. There are references to the duties of a handmaid, but they are fairly obtuse. Language is the only issue that some folks will have a problem with. There are 4-5 f-bombs and a smattering of other expletives 3/10 used for literary accent, not gratuitously.
Closing out this volume are the “historical notes to the 13th symposium”. This is a presented as a list of references and narrative to a symposium board by way of evidence/proof to substantiate the document which is “The Testsments”📚
UPDATE: At the suggestion of two readers, I did look thru this book again to see if my review needed revision and it did in that I’d
assigned POV credit to the wrong character. My apologies, that has been corrected. The remainder of my review stands. It
has been 35 years since “Handmaid’s Tale” and I’ve not watched the Hulu production. My interest was not peaked by
by political application but by human motivation. Why would the Aunts live this way for so long, instruct other young girls
in this lifestyle, not look to escape? What motivates them? Did they find peace or love in God or the religious rites? These
are not easy answers to find in “The Testament” format 📚
If you expected a "happily ever after" story about "Offred" that isn't this book. It's more about the fall of the dystopian and non-functional Gilead from the point of view of some of the women, gender-traitors, who run the regime and also some of the young women born into the system. Haven't you wondered what a young girl would think of her impending marriage in such a world where women are vessels, not allowed to read and treated as chattel?
Best of all in this book is the story of Agnes Jemima, a young girl growing up as a daughter of a Commander and a Wife. She's an innocent, trying to make sense of the Gilead world where everything is kept secret or is an out-and-out deception. Her simplistic voice is almost like that of Offred in the original Handmaid book, with its cool observation and background of confusion about what went on before or behind her back.
Then we get the "autobiography" and first-person story of Aunt Lydia, the moral guardian of the Gilead society. As well as some of the story of the "Underground Female-Road" and the resistance (Mayday Movement) The deeper look into the complex villain Aunt Lydia fleshes out the cartoonish cruel and vicious prison matron picture into something much more interesting.
I wondered how such a dysfunctional society bent on execution, control and utter despondency could survive for long, so here is the sequel filling in that story.
The book is an absolute page turner from page one. The prose are beautifully written in a style that readers of Atwood’s work have come to expect. Be prepared to put everything aside as you will not be able to put the book down.
One thing that was pretty disappointing is there is almost no mention of June. There were also quite a few plot holes but it was great finding out about how things turned out in Gilead.
Hopefully The Testaments will give Hulu a framework for the rest of the Handmaid‘s Tale Series.
Top reviews from other countries
#1 What was the point of Aunt Lydia plotting to bring Baby Nicole back to Gilead, only to send her back to Canada with the microdot? Why did she need to expose the girl to such danger, and surely she could have got the microdot into Canada by some other means?
#2 Would exposing the crimes of the Gilead ruling class really be enough to bring the whole society down? In our post truth age, with world leaders literally breaking the law in plain sight on a daily basis, this seems like a far-fetched liberal fantasy.
Congratulations Margaret Atwood ..You have 100per cent out done your self in the writing of THE TESTAMENT ..
It was so good I read it twice in succession and will probably (definitely) read it again....For all fans of The Handmaid's Tale...please read this for your self. If like me, you will cry, laugh and hold your breath in parts, as I did...
A truly remarkable and unique way of finding the truth of the story . Thank you Margaret Atwood
The only way I can think to describe it is to say the book seemed to me a little as though it had been written by Jessica Fletcher, of Murder She Wrote. Who had been binge watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I enjoyed this as a page-turner but it really doesn't stand up well against the original which was a potent depiction of powerlessness. This time round the girls are somehow too kick-ass. I read another review which described this as like Atwood writing fan-fic of her own text - that nails it!
Manage your expectations with this one.
The Testaments takes place approximately 15-16 years later than The Handmaid's Tale. The reader sees what the world now looks like through the testimony of three female narrators: Aunt Lydia (yes, that Aunt Lydia), Witness 369A, and Witness 369B. Aunt Lydia reveals that Gilead's citizens are more power-hungry and corrupt than ever. Trust is a rarity, and Aunt Lydia says to "Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Having no friends, I must make do with enemies." Witness 369A tells the reader about her life growing up as the daughter of a Commander in Gilead. Witness 369B lives in Canada, and gives the reader her perspective as an outsider of Gilead, looking in. I can't give you any more details about the narrators than that without spoiling the many twists, turns, shocks and surprises you will encounter as you read the book.
I've been waiting for this sequel for so long that I really wanted to take my time reading it. However, my copy must have contained chocolate because it kept calling me to come back to it, and I ended up reading it within a day. I found myself totally engaged with the narrators and each new morsel of information they revealed made it that much harder for me to put down.