The Testaments is probably the biggest book event of 2019; a direct sequel to Atwood’s incredible dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which was published 34 years ago.
I only read The Handmaid’s Tale for the first time last year, and found it to be a gripping (and terrifying) story, and one that felt worryingly relevant. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book.
The Testaments follows three narratives: that of Aunt Lydia (who will be familiar to readers from The Handmaid’s Tale); Agnes, a girl who has grown up in Gilead and chooses to become an Aunt rather than marrying; and Daisy, a teenager in Canada, who is suddenly thrown into the world of the Gilead resistance. The story tells of the beginning of the downfall of dystopian Gilead, a world based on Old Testament religious ideals, and the suppression of women.
This book was certainly an enjoyable read, and at its best when we were being shown Aunt Lydia’s story, especially that of her past and how she became an Aunt. This section of the book, looking at the early days of Gilead, and how Aunt Lydia became Aunt Lydia was fascinating. I also really enjoyed Daisy’s and Agnes’s stories towards the start of the novel.
Where it worked less well was towards the end, when the novel became more of an action adventure. The increase in pace seemed necessary, but it just did not have the same impact that the rest of the book did.
Overall, this was a great read and a brilliant insight into Aunt Lydia’s character, but not quite as good as The Handmaid’s Tale. It is still an incredible book though, and one that I would highly recommend.