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The Testaments Book Review

by Elyse V

I’m a self-confessed bookworm with fairly varied tastes in books. I will happily read Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun, Shakespeare and Margaret Atwood – like I said varied. While I’m a fan of all of those authors, Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye is my favourite book so she holds a special place. I felt that full disclosure was important as I dive into The Testaments book review.

I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale and watched the Hulu series based on the book from the very beginning but this sequel doesn’t follow the events of the show. I won’t give you any major spoilers even though this book was published in September 2019.


The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel that has captivated audiences since 1985. It’s about Gilead, a religious toleration regime that had overthrown the United States of America. In Gilead women have no rights. Some women are made to be Handmaids- forced to breed children for the leader’s barren wives. The horrors of Gilead know no bounds and it is a shocking read.  

The Testaments picks up 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, but not with the original narrator. Three different women: a girl who grew up in Gilead and knows nothing else, a women who grew up outside of Gilead in Canada, and Aunt Lydia narrate the story. Yes, that Aunt Lydia. If you don’t know, Aunt Lydia is one of the villains of the original novel.  She is part of the class of women known as Aunts who are in charge of the handmaids. Aunt Lydia is a frightening and brutal character who seemingly cares about the girls in her care while abusing and terrorizing them. 


I really can’t give anything away. I’d hate to ruin the book for anyone who hasn’t read it. What I can say is that this novel is hard to put down. It changes a lot of your preconceived notions about villains, victims, and asserting your own power.  In this novel, Atwood attempts to find some form of redemption for Lydia either by illuminating how she became the villain we know or through her own actions. Either way it is shocking and masterful to get readers to feel anything other than contempt and hatred for Aunt Lydia for even 1 second. Does she do the impossible and find redemption for this character? I’ll leave that up to you. 

As for the two other narrators you see very different sides of how Gilead is from the inside and how the world perceives this new ‘country.’ Will they be able to make their own mark on the world? Again you need to read the book to find out. 

I will say if you are an Atwood fan, a Handmaid’s Tale fan, or just a fan of  great writing: read this book. It is an essential addition to any library. In case you couldn’t tell, I loved reading this novel. Have you read The Testaments? How do you feel about the book? I’m really interested to hear others impressions of this great book. Let me know in the comments.

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1 comment

Ross Matthews' Name Drop Book Review | Older Slightly Wiser October 24, 2020 - 7:20 AM

[…] I thought I’d add to my every-growing eclectic list of book reviews which has so far included The Testaments, Midnight Sun, and Hamilton and Pegg: A Revolutionary Friendship. Today, I’m adding my review […]



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