The Testaments by Margaret Atwood review – a dazzling follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood is at her best in this Booker-shortlisted return, three decades on, to the patriarchal dystopia of Gilead
MThe Handmaid’s Tale. She played an Aunt in a scene where a woman is ritually shamed by a group of handmaids for “getting herself” gang raped at the age of 14. “Her fault, she led them on,” is the chant they use. Atwood says she found the scene “horribly upsetting”, although it was possibly not so wrenching to write as it was to enact or, later, for us to watch.
In the original book, a few deft sentences lead the reader, not into the magnetising shaming of another human being, but to the narrator Offred’s insight into her own complicity. “I used to think well of myself,” she says. “I didn’t then.” The scene is moral, not sensational; it works through the brain, not through the eyes. This is one reason Atwood’s work feels so ageless and necessary. She
thinks.Atwood certainly has had an enormous amount to think about since her novel went supernova, not just as the hugely successful television adaptation, but as a powerful symbol of resistance to the misogyny ofand the Christian rightwing. The series became a kind of visual enlargement of the agonies of the age, or the female agonies at least. It was sometimes hard to look, or to look away.
InThe Testaments, Atwood reclaims the right to consider such difficulties rather than simply imagine them. She is interested not in how people become degraded, as objects (that is so easily done), but how they became morally compromised.The novel picks up 15 or 16 years after Offred disappears to an unknown fate at the end of
The Handmaid’s Tale. There are three narrators, two of them young and idealistic, one of them old and endlessly cunning. The most compelling portrait is that of wickedness – of course it is. The story is driven and described by the infamous Aunt Lydia, and she is just as terrifying, in her astringency, as you would expect her to be.
In Lydia’s world view, people rise and fall by strength or weakness, and justice is a kind of theatre. “Innocent men denying their guilt sound exactly like guilty men, as I am sure you have noticed, my reader.” She appeals to the heartless survivor in all of us – at least this is what she seems to say, that when the chips are down, we will revert to our most primitive state. A crowd of imprisoned women is described as “crocodiles”, ready to “leap, thrash about and snap”. Their first sighting of a mass execution does not dull their appetite for food, in fact it does the opposite: afterwards, Lydia is given an egg sandwich and, “I am ashamed to say, I gobbled it up with relish”.
To read this book is to feel the world turning, as the unforeseeable shifts of recent years reveal the same themesHer induction into the order of Aunts is described with a chilling vigour. Tortured, imprisoned and tested, she is given a choice, and she chooses “the path most travelled by”, one of compromise, betrayal and lies. The first book was good on the envy between women, when they have no power;
The Testamentslooks at collaboration – another vice of the oppressed. Lydia, however, collaborates as an equal, not as a victim; she is not in thrall. Indeed, she is happy to destroy women who have internalised the values of the patriarchal regime: one girl, Shunammite, is coldly sacrificed to her own silliness, a move that Lydia seems to enjoy.Read more: The Guardian »
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, review: this sequel to The Handmaid's Tale thrills us all over againTo say that The Testaments, Margaret Atwood ’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, is keenly anticipated is like saying Ben Stokes played a rather useful innings for England. I lost interest after series one, sorry.
The Handmaid’s Tale sequel: Margaret Atwood ending revelation teases major series spoiler Margaret Atwood 's ending revelation for TheHandmaidsTale sequel TheTestaments may have teased a big series spoiler
Margret Atwood: The Testaments is finally here, and a third book might be on its wayPraise be! MargaretAtwood launched TheTestaments at Waterstones last night. Here's what happened...
Peter Doig; Jasmine Thomas-Girvan & Chris Ofili review – tall tales on distant shoresPeter Doig’s new paintings are typically mysterious and entrancing, but a joint show from his Trinidadian neighbours glitters less for all its gold
Exclusive: Aunt Lydia takes centre-stage in The Testaments – and Ann Dowd couldn’t be happierAunt Lydia of TheTestaments is very different to Aunt Lydia of TheHandmaidsTale – we spoke to Ann Dowd, who narrates the audiobook, and had a LOT to say about it. PenguinUKBooks MargaretAtwood
Serena Williams not giving up the fight to equal Margaret Court’s recordSerena Williams has lost her past four grand slam finals but still has the fire inside to win her 24th major, the same as the Australian Margaret Court Que no son Mossos D'Escuadra? que permiten la censura de una policia politica durante 13 años donde estuviera,cuidado porque tedreis que dar explicaciones,todo los delitos que estan en el Codigo Penal por miles de criminales funcionarios publicos,interviniendo mis comunicaciones. After two lateral and medial epicondyle surgeries, I'm in awe of Serena Williams' right arm. How does she do it? KellyAvellino Get it done dear.