A Place to Read

The Testaments – A Review

I bought The Testaments with my audible credit. Audible is free for 30 days and then £7.99 a month afterwards, for which you get one credit which can be used against any book of your choice, no matter what the cost. This post will contain affiliate links to both Audible and Waterstones which is my bookshop of choice.

The Testaments

Author: Margaret Atwood Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9781784742324
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 667 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 39 mm

The Blurb

Launched to widespread acclaim at our flagship Piccadilly shop, Margaret Atwood’s Booker-winning sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale is undoubtedly the story for our times.

Picking up ten years after its predecessor’s tantalisingly open-ended conclusion, The Testaments provides a new window into Atwood’s dystopian world, as seen through the eyes of three women of Gilead: a girl brought up within its confines, another on the run beyond its walls, and a woman at the very heart of the regime’s dark designs with secrets of her own. Each has a unique perspective on the world of Gilead and each will be crucial in deciding its fate.

Effortlessly combining a piercing critique of gender, oppression and authoritarianism with the whip-smart pace of the purest literary thriller, The Testaments is devastating in its immediacy whilst remaining a timeless piece of faultless storytelling.

The Testaments on Audible

Narrated by: Ann Dowd, Bryce Dallas Howard, Mae Whitman, Derek Jacobi, Tantoo Cardinal, Margaret Atwood

Length: 13 hrs and 18 : Fiction, Literary

I enjoyed the recording as each main characters story had a different narrator which I think always makes a listening more enticing. You get to know more of the person in the story rather than reading it all in one voice. Each character is brought to life.

My Verdict on The Testaments

I will confess that the first time I read The prequel to The Testaments, The Handmaid’s Tale was only last year. So I didn’t have so long a wait as many for the sequel. I have not seen the television series although from those who I have spoken too have said it was good.

After listening to The Testaments I was left with a few questions which were kindly answered by friends, but more about that later.

I did actually enjoy The Testaments in it’s own right although it was very different to the Handmaid’s Tale. The story was less of the fear of what may become of the the future and more of an adventure tale. The feel of the whole story was very different.

Margaret Atwood claimed she set out to answer questions she’d been asked about The Handmaid’s Tale but although it does give some insight into how Gilead came about, it doesn’t really answer much. I think it could even be read on it’s own, without having read the Handmaid’s Tale. Although, you’d probably be confused as to what the actual role of a handmaid was.

The Daughter’s Tales

The story revolves around the daughter’s of Offred, the main character in the Handmaid’s Tale and this is where my questions began. In the book we see Offred being carted off in a van by ‘Mayday’ with her future unknown and only the notion that she was pregnant. We already know that she had an older daughter but she had no idea what had happened to her.

Apparently in the television series it takes the story a little further and her baby is born before she escapes.

I became confused as to why they made such a big fuss about Offred’s baby when in the book she had not even been sure of her pregnancy or the parentage of the baby.

In the Testaments this baby is now a teen being brought up by adoptive parents and is sent back into Gilead on a mission to bring the regime down.

Offred’s older child is in Gilead being raised by adoptive parents, and when her mother dies her step mother wants her to be married off. She decides that she wants to become an aunt instead. The aunts are Gilead’s version of nuns.

The two children meet, not knowing they have the same birth mother but end up helping each other.

I think a lot of my confusion in the plot came from The Testaments relying on it’s readers having watched the television series which I felt was disappointing. Friends who had watched the television series where able to answer some questions for me.

Final Thoughts

I did really enjoy listening to The Testaments on Audible. I feel that if I’d had a physical copy I’d have a spent a lot more time trying to tie things in with the two books. I’m still not sure if that would have been wasted time. So, although I enjoyed the story I felt it had a very different feel to the first book and it left a lot more questions than answers.

You can buy a hard copy of the book from Waterstones for £17.99 Paperback version will be released soon.

Or you can listen on Audible for 1 credit or £31.99

Audible is free for the first 30 days and then £7.99 per month afterwards which gives you one credit.

Have you read The Testaments?

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A Place to Read

What I read in September – Matt Haig and Margaret Atwood

This month I’ve been reading Matt Haig and Margaret Atwood.

Back to my current Matt Haig addiction I finished Reasons to Stay Alive. I listened to it on Audible, read by Matt himself which I really liked. But it is definitely something that needs to be kept in a paper copy, particularly by your side at all times so you can remind yourself why it’s worth living at all times. It is about half the size of his regular books though.

I will be buying myself a ‘hard copy’ as I’m certain I will read it again.

How to Stop Time – Matt Haig

On to my fourth Matt Haig book. I didn’t read it straight after Reasons to Stay Alive, but I guess it needed to be written about next. There was definitely some cross over.

If you can bear with me for some personal opions, I have often thought about how long you could actually want to go on living. There has to be a point when you get fed up of it all and feel comfortable with it being the end of your life.

In this story the main character is over 400 years old. He’s lived many lifetimes and aged slowly. He has loved then forbidden himself to love again and over the years he has lost the reason to being alive. He has stopped feeling alive.

I love how the story intertwines the present day with his history. One minute he’s teaching his class in a London school and the next we are transported back to a different century while he reminices on the most significant events of his life.

The reason he has stayed alive is because he knows that he has a daughter, who is also blessed, or cursed with a long, long life. He’s lost her and he’s desperate to find her again and that’s what keeps him going.

But then it’s all turned on it’s head when he meets a lady that he has feelings for. He has stopped feeling for such a long time.

The ending feels a little rushed and unbelievable. But then that’s not the point of the story. Is it believeable that someone could live for hundreds of years? The story is to help him understand why he should live. Again, reasons to stay alive but in a different format.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

I’ve not seen the television series or the film, but I did get drawn into the story and decided to buy myself a paperback of this classic tale by Margaret Atwood. Straight away I was drawn into the story and the life of the main character Offred. It’s certainly a strange tale, and has so many more questions than answers. I do enjoy stories that look into a future though, whether they are utopian or dystopian, and this tale is definitely dystopian.

Offred tells of her current situation in a matter of fact way while having flashbacks of a different life before Gilead became about. This different life is the one we would be used to now.

I found a lot of the story quite harrowing and the repression was stifling. The whole concept of the story is pretty terrifying. I decided I would like to watch the television series after reading the book but was dismayed to find that to watch it I had to pay Virgin an extra £19.99 to watch just the first series, and the other two were even more expensive!

I will console myself with the new Margaret Atwood book, I’m not sure whether to get the book or the audible copy. At least I won’t have waited as long as those who read The Handmaid’s Tale when it was first published.

The Testaments audible copy

I’m already started on my next book, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. This is a paperback which I bought second hand. The problem with books is that I cannot crochet and read at the same time.

See My other Book Reviews.

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