The Testaments by Margaret Atwood – Spoiler Free First Look Review


Hey everyone I’m crashing into the
Waterstones vlog schedule with obviously a very special book, a very special day, a
book that a lot of people have been waiting for for a very long time.
It is later on today the midnight opening of shops all over the country to
see the arrival of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, the long-awaited sequel
to The Handmaid’s Tale. And here it is. Yes, here is a copy which I managed to
get to read over this weekend and I’m here with a spoiler-free review. Now what
do I mean by spoiler-free? I don’t want to sort of upset anybody or ruin
anything for anybody with this book so I will not be
discussing any thing to do with the plot I will not even be talking about who
it’s narrated by. I will be avoiding all of that I hope because I don’t want to
ruin the reading experience for anybody. There are of course reviews out there,
there’s bits of information out there, but I’m gonna try and keep this as sort
of vague and thematic as possible and not ruin your reading experience. The
first thing to say I suppose is that it is so good to have Margaret Atwood back
at the controls. And what I mean by that is of course that a lot of us have been
watching the TV series. I actually watched the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale, I watched a bit of the second season and it started to veer off in a
direction that made me feel very uncomfortable
and I wasn’t enjoying it and I decided to stop watching it. And that’s partly
because of course it was going beyond the original book and there was
something about the way that some of the female characters were being framed that
I found very uncomfortable so I left the TV series. So picking up The Testaments
and what we can say is that Margaret Atwood has said that she wrote this book in
response to the many questions that she gets all the time about what happens
next in Gilead and of course how Gilead falls.
And that is I suppose what this book does deal with. We do know, I think this
is common knowledge, that it is set about 15 years after the end of the Handmaid’s
Tale. So having her back at the controls, what I mean by that is that
from the first page there is that very familiar sort of tone
and handling from Margaret Atwood which means that I just felt my
shoulders relax. I was like, yes, she’s telling the story, she’s in control of it
and I knew that we are in very good hands. It’s sort of remarkable to me that
an author like Margaret Atwood who’s been writing for so many years,
she’ll be 80 later on this year, the clarity with which she writes is really,
really impressive. And as I say right from the very first page you know where
you are and what’s going on and it feels very, very good to be in her hands.
What can we say about what’s contained within this book?
Well, I suppose as I say, it does answer some of those really fundamental questions.
And if you think about when we look at dystopian fiction or speculative fiction
or fiction that looks at sort of totalitarian or oppressive regimes there
are some questions that will come up again and again and again. Which is how
do these things come to be? How do these states rise? How do these people come to
power? And looking around the world today this is a question that we should all be
asking ourselves because of the rise and falls of various political movements. Do
these things happen insidiously? Do they happen quickly? Do they happen slowly?
What should we be doing as citizens to keep our eyes open to make sure that we
don’t suddenly find ourselves in Gilead? And I think that’s one of the really
really interesting ways to read this book, is that idea of seeing how
these things happen and what we need to be on guard against. And of course that
leads to another question which is what will people do to survive within a sort
of oppressive regime like that? And that’s a really interesting question. Are
you the kind of person that would roll over and do whatever you were asked to
do? Are you the kind of person that would resist? Are you the kind of person that would
be frozen by inaction. Are you the kind of person that would bend slightly and
survive in order to either just keep your head down and make sure that you
don’t die or be the kind of person that would do that in order to somehow effect
change later on. And I think that’s a really interesting way of reading the
book. And as I say all of this applies to the world today and that’s one of the
most amazing things about this book and of courseThe Handmaid’s Tale previously,
is that whilst it is speculative fiction and whilst it might seem to be beyond
the realms of possibility, it really isn’t. If you look at
some of the things that are happening in America at the moment, if you look at
some of the rises of populist regimes around Europe, if you look at
just politics in general around the world; it can be very quickly that things
can change and people suddenly find themselves living in a very different
society to the one that they may have grown up in. And that’s sort of equally
terrifying and stimulating I suppose as you’re reading. And I suppose at the end
of all of this what you’re left with is this sense, this
sort of notion about action. It’s about being aware, being alert and never
believing that the situation that you’re in is beyond repair. That there is always
something that can be done to change things for the better.
And so in a way it’s sort of it’s about activism, it’s about action.
It’s about camaraderie, it’s about working together with other people. And
that means that there is this kind of optimistic tone in this book, there is
something in there about believing that I suppose resistance if you’re in that
situation or working together with others, finding common goals with others
and being able to do something about even the most hopeless situations is
possible. And I suppose that’s something that I find myself reading about in
historical books looking at the past. So that no matter how awful the
situation was there was always somebody or a group of people who believed that
they could make a difference. And so it’s quite interesting to see that same theme
being put into the sort of the future if you like. And it’s something for us all
to bear in mind wherever we are whatever happens to be going on in our own
domestic politics or indeed politics internationally. That it is always
ordinary people who can make the biggest difference and change even the most sort
of hard set and oppressive regimes in history. They have all toppled and it has
all been because of people. Not sort of anything more extraordinary than that, just
ordinary people doing something. So that is quite a nice thing to take
away from this book. I think it’s going to be a hugely popular read. I hope I
haven’t spoiled anything by talking to you about it rather generally. As I say,
midnight tonight some Waterstones shops will be opening to put the book on
sale but from tomorrow, the 10th of September it will be available for
everybody to read and it’s an absolute treat. So there we go. That is The
Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I hope you enjoy it and I will be back on the
normal vlog schedule sometime soon but until then take care.

7 thoughts on “The Testaments by Margaret Atwood – Spoiler Free First Look Review

  1. Got mine preordered from Foyles for the free pinbadge! Dispatched second class on Sunday, hoping it will be here tomorrow! I couldn’t get into the tv show. I adore Atwood’s writing and didn’t feel right hearing the story without that. It’s the perfect mixture of poetics and bluntness

  2. Omg I saw "Aunt Lydia" on tv this morning and wow I ordered my book it's coming friday soooo excited cos I absolutely love the hand maids tale.😉p.s great video btw.

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