Overview (No Spoilers):
I’m not quite sure how the fact that a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale was in the works slipped past my radar but needless to say I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon the NPR review touting the new release. As it has been years at this point since I’d read the inaugural novel, it took several chapters before I became reacclimated to this disturbing literary world. Honestly, I should have reread The Handmaid’s Tale prior to picking up the sequel, as I felt like I was missing out on key connections and Easter eggs due to the time induced fog surrounding my recollections of the aforementioned novel. The Testaments has a mix of familiar characters, interacting alongside new personalities, which take the story down an unexpected path, keeping the reader mindlessly flipping pages, especially as the several dark twists emerge to pull the reader deeper into the fold. Fascinatingly, this literary realm now expands beyond that of Gileadean, as we get a significant glimpse at life in Canada. While The Handmaid’s Tale laid the foundation that provoked contemplation long after reading, The Testaments didn’t necessarily stimulate the same level of raw emotion, instead this sequel expounded upon the aforementioned foundation by filling in society nuances, life for classes other than Handmaids, and expanding the world beyond Gileadean controlled confines. Overall, despite approximately 30 years in between publishing dates, Atwood delivers an eloquent sequel that serves to not only expand a provoking literary world but also to slough off the lingering mystery surrounding the aftermath of the events chronicled in The Handmaid’s Tale.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- I still find Daisy’s reaction to her parent’s deaths to be a bit baffling. Perhaps she was in prolonged shock but she seemed to forget about them or have an abbreviated mourning period. I realize she was Baby Nicole but seriously, who would have actually let her go back to Gileadean?
- Why didn’t Offred raise Daisy in hiding?
- I thoroughly enjoyed the redemptive arc of Lydia who had been undermining Gileadean for years. Sure it doesn’t totally forgive the transgressions she had to commit to survive in this world but I loved the added depth, especially surrounding the upper echelon of Gileadean, as well as the society’s beginnings.
- How long had Lydia been plotting and what other mini rebellions had she concocted?
- Another interesting aspect of this realm that was expanded upon was the mysterious inner workings of the Aunts.
- Very focused on the women, we still gained limited insight into the day to day activities of the men.
- How long did Gileadean last once the leaked information started hitting the headlines? How did the headlines actually get into the strictly controlled country?
- It was thought provoking also to be given hints of the discord among residents within the outskirts of Gileadean.
- Ugh. Paula was just as frustrating in round two.
- Poor, poor Becka! I hated that she had to kill herself. Was there no other way to have her escape or explain Jade and Agnes’ disappearance?