Book #72

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

"Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in." --Margaret Atwood 

I’m going to have some troubles putting into words how this book made me feel. I always have my doubts about sequels, and how can one possibly write a sequel to something as monolithic as The Handmaid’s Tale? It’s too huge a feat; unless, of course, you’re Margaret Atwood.

She writes from three different perspectives here (making me want to kiss my fingers and throw them in the air like a cartoon chef). We hear from a young girl growing up as a Commander’s daughter in Gilead, another young girl who is lucky enough to live somewhere that doesn’t aspire to the regime, and, finally and most importantly, Aunt Lydia. 

The first two voices contrast their upbringings and current lives, with Aunt Lydia’s words cementing her as matriarch and keeper of wisdom. All three, however, bring hope for the future of Gilead, and unknockable desires to bring it to the ground.

As we’ve only ever heard of Gilead from a Handmaid’s perspective, it was wonderful to see how children in Gilead are indoctrinated into believing in the regime, and also to understand how things were run from Aunt Lydia’s high (for a woman) position within the system.

Where The Handmaid’s Tale is a bleak picture of what can happen ever so slowly when we sit back and allow the men in charge to make decisions, The Testaments is more of an inspirational prod to make change, to shout from the rooftops, to never accept.

Once again for the men in the back: nolite te bastardes carborundorum