The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood
I read The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, in college in 1995; it was assigned reading in an American literature class (we will set aside the fact that Atwood is Canadian). It was so interesting.
The book follows the idea of a United States (now called Gilead) that experiences a takeover by a totalitarian, Puritanical regime, and people are segregated into roles. Commanders (those running the country), Wives, Marthas (servants), The Eyes (the security force). The book focuses on the role of the Handmaid, the women who are selected to be breeders for the Commanders; a necessity because some unspecified ecological disaster has caused infertility in most people.
The Handmaid’s Tale was published in 1985, and in recent years has become wildly popular, with modern-day readers drawing parallels (whether real or imagined) with the current political climate. Hulu picked up the rights and created a television series, which is very well done.
Atwood wrote a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, called The Testaments; it was published in 2019, almost 35 years after the original novel. It picks up with the stories of Gilead, 15 years later. An active underground continues to try to destabilize and overthrow the government of Gilead and restore the United States. Gilead is showing cracks in the system. It follows the stories of three individual women whose lives are woven together. All strong women; Atwood doles out their secrets over time and reveals a backstory that the reader might not have guessed.
Again, Atwood writes a novel that draws the reader in and holds your interest, but unfortunately I didn’t find it quite as compelling as the original novel. Although I’m sure that people will be talking about both for years to come.