Book Review of Margaret Atwood's The Testaments

Interesting use of colour in this Penguin cover of Margaret Atwood's The Testaments

The Testaments - Worth the Wait? 

I blogged earlier in the week about¬†reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale¬†in preparation of¬†reviewing Atwood’s¬†The Testaments. I wanted to thoroughly prepare for the new release and make sure that I could remember who was who, why they mattered and so on.. Was it the right thing to do? Yes. If you haven’t read either book, then definitely read The Handmaid’s Tale first. Was it worth the wait? Yes. It was a superb sequel. Having said that it is definitely possible to enjoy¬†The Testaments¬†with no prior knowledge of Gilead and the characters in it. Atwood is a clever old stick!¬†

Exquisitely plotted, Margaret Atwood’s¬†The Testaments¬†was a fabulous read that I really didn’t want to put down. However, with more twists and turns than a meandering country lane this sequel had a great storyline that held together meticulously well. I think with the passing of so much time and the nature of the dystopian society set up in¬†The Handmaid.s Tale,¬†the plot really did have to hold together superbly, so thank goodness that it did.¬†

The structure of The Testaments was fantastic, wi
th not a flaw and the characters overall were very well drawn too. Very little not to like with Aunt Lydia’s testament being particularly strong. Incidentally, I also loved her backstory. The ambience of Gilead was created, probably, or at least possibly, even more effectively than in Handmaid and most of the questions that I had were answered. I had blogged that I didn’t want the book to waste too much time on what happened in Offred’s ‘love life’, but I’ve let myself down as I would have liked to have one or two loose ends tied up that weren’t, but I can hardly complain.

There have been few books I’ve anticipated more excitedly than this one, and I am glad to say it didn’t let me down.
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is an excellent sequel to The Handmaid's Tale.

Book Discussion Questions for Margaret Atwood's The Testaments and The Handmaid's Tale

Although these two titles were intricately linked the writing style of the Testaments didn’t tightly imitate Handmaid. In addtiion, the structure was completely different. Rather than a single narrator, Offred in Handmaid, we are shown the inside and outside of Gilead from three different narrators’ perspectives as they recount their part of the story, roughly in turn. Did you find these differences problematic when reading The Testaments as a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale?

The Testaments has a greater variety of age and lifestyle of narrator and thus enables the reader to have far more breadth of understanding of Gilead and what happened. Would the story have been as effective if we had continued with only one narrator? 

How does The Testaments change your perspective of Aunt Lydia? If you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale what is your view of Aunt Lydia?¬†

Atwood places¬†The Testaments¬†in a more ‘real’ setting often referring to parts of neighbouring Canada. Does this link to a real place make the dystopia more or less frightening?

How are Agnes and Nicole presented as being both similiar and different characters? Which of them do you like the most and why? 

Why has The Testaments been so named by Margaret Atwood?

What question would you ask Margaret Atwood if you were having dinner with her? 

Sisterhood in all sense of the word, completely dominates the text. It is particularly poignant at the end. What do you interpret sisterhood as meaning in The Testaments?

Image used from the Linked Guardian article. (Captive Andromache … detail from the painting by Frederic Leighton (c1888). Photograph: Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Scroll to Top