Margaret Atwood (2019)
Read by Ann Dowd, Bryce Dallas Howard, Derek Jacobi, Mae Whitman, Margaret Atwood and Tantoo Cardinal.
The Testaments is the long awaited sequel to the Handmaid’s tale (published in 1985). 38 years later, Atwood has gifted us with a sequel that is set 15 years post the final scene in The Handmaid’s tale. Receiving a joint award for the Man Booker Prize 2019 (along with Bernardine Evaristo's novel Girl, Woman, Other), it does not disappoint. Where the Handmaid’s Tale had many bleak and despairing moments, The Testaments give hope.
The story is set through a sequential series of transcripts by three women involved in the fall of the dystopian world of Gilliad. Through their painful stories we learn more of the horrific and unfair treatment of woman in the misogynist regime, and their eventual strength and activism. We hear from the voice of Aunt Lydia, a prominent enforcer of the laws that see women treated as commodities for trading. Daisy is a young teenager who has had the good fortune of growing up in Canada, and Agnes, a little older than Daisy, who has only known the life of a devout and obedient Gilliad citizen. Harnessing strengths from polar opposites, the unlikely three work together for a common purpose.
Ann Dowd, the actress that plays Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s tale T.V. series also reads for Aunt Lydia in this recording. Her voice engaging and immediately familiar for anyone who has watched the T.V. show. Daisy and Agnes have younger sounding voices. Atwood herself has a part in reading each chapter title with a haunting voice that adds a sorrowful flavour to the reading. A question that I and I’m sure many others had when reading or watching The Handmaid’s Tale is how could Aunt Lydia act the way that she does towards women, her own kind. It is exciting and relieving to hear her perspective in The Testaments.
The result is an intensly satisfying sequel and conclusion to the saga. Highly recommended as an audiobook, the only reason it took me so long to sink my teeth into this book is because it was released as a hard back, which I am not fond of (uncomfortable when reading in bed). The audiobook was a compromise, however, I am glad I did consume the book in this form. I devoured it as fast as I could, only allowing myself to listen when running or walking. Consequently my exercise regularity increased considerably during the listening of this story.
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As a lover of books and a teacher, I read widely. Here you will find book reviews of many genres including picture story, middle grade fiction, graphic novels, women's fiction, short story anthologies, non-fiction and anything else that takes my fancy.