The Testaments

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Rating: 4.6/5

Author: Margaret Atwood

Publisher: Nan A. Talese, Chatto and Windus

Publishing Date: 10th September 2019

Language: English

Genre: Dystopian Fiction

ISBN-10: 1784742325

ISBN-13: 978-1784742324

Format: Paperback

Pages: 432

Cost: Rs. 484 (Paperback), Rs. 366.66 (Kindle Edition), Rs. 700 (Hardcover)

Plot:

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia.  Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.

With ‘The Testaments’, Margaret Atwood opens up the innermost workings of Gilead, as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

Review:

It is a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). The novel is set 15 years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale. It is narrated by Aunt Lydia, a character from the previous novel; Agnes, a young woman living in Gilead; and Daisy, a young woman living in Canada.

Atwood's brilliance is reflected in Aunt Lydia's POV. However, the whole novel isn’t written about Aunt Lydia; The other two girls are prototypical dystopian heroines - one abused by an evil oppressive regime, and the other- running away from the bad people. You will follow three characters who are prepared to risk everything to destroy the patriarchy in the system.

In Lydia’s point of view, people rise and fall by strength or weakness, and justice is a kind of a drama- “Innocent men denying their guilt sound exactly like guilty men, as I am sure you have noticed, my reader.”

She refers to a crowd of imprisoned women is described as “crocodiles”, ready to “leap, thrash about and snap”. Despite these strong imageries, Lydia is not the only captain in this boat. The younger women, introduced as Agnes and Daisy, are portrayed as courageous and hopeful and they do wander around in the second half of the novel. They believe in friendship: they even witness the perseverance, after death, of a person’s soul.

For the first eight chapters, ‘The Testaments’ is a bit meticulous. Details are laid out almost like a comprehensive catalogue. However, the book marks the Atwood magic for almost over 400 pages and you will find yourself drawn into a first person accounting of the events of the past, the intervening years and the present days of Agnes Jemima.

Milestones of the Book:

  • The Testaments was joint winner of the 2019 Man Booker Prize, alongside Bernardine Evaristo 's novel- ‘Girl, Woman, Other’.
  • It was also voted 'Best Fiction' novel in the Goodreads Choice awards 2019, winning by over 50,000 votes.

About the Author:

Regarded as one of Canada’s finest living writers, Margaret Atwood is a poet, novelist, story writer, essayist, and environmental activist. Her books have received critical acclaim in the United States, Europe, and her native Canada, and she has received numerous literary awards, including the Booker Prize, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Governor General’s Award, twice. Atwood’s critical popularity is matched by her popularity with readers; her books are regularly bestsellers and her novels have been adapted into popular movies and television series.

Her reviews and critical articles have appeared in various eminent magazines and she has also edited many books, including The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English (1983) and, with Robert Weaver, The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English (1986). She has been a full-time writer since 1972, first teaching English, then holding a variety of academic posts and writer residencies. She was President of the Writers Union of Canada from 1981-1982 and President of PEN, Canada from 1984-1986.

Atwood is known for her strong support of causes: feminism, environmentalism, social justice. In Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972), Atwood discerns a uniquely Canadian literature, distinct from its American and British counterparts. Margaret Atwood is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, has been presented with the Order of Ontario and the Norwegian Order of Literary Merit, and has been awarded 16 honorary degrees.

 


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