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Publisher's Summary

Number one New York Times best seller

Winner of the Booker Prize

The Testaments is a modern masterpiece, a powerful novel that can be enjoyed on its own or as a companion to Margaret Atwood’s classic, The Handmaid’s Tale.

More than 15 years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia. Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.

With The Testaments, Margaret Atwood opens up the innermost workings of Gilead, as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

©2019 Margaret Atwood (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Ann Dowd, known for her role on the television adaptation, is formidable as Aunt Lydia. Hearing her resonant narration of diary entries allows listeners to feel the horror of early Gilead, be disturbed by the aunt's complicity, and discover her secrets. Bryce Dallas Howard's sweet narration of the Transcript of Witness Testimony 369A provides a window onto the extreme restrictions of girlhood in Gilead. Mae Whitman's snarky rendition of Witness 369B's testimony reflects a privileged youth in Canada, where she unwittingly triggers dramatic changes. Listening adds an entirely new dimension to a riveting tale. Atwood narrates section headings and her note, and Tantoo Cardinal and Derek Jacobi nail the scholarly conclusion." (AudioFile Magazine)

“A chilling invitation no Atwood fan can resist...The Testaments reminds us of the power of truth in the face of evil.” (People

“Margaret Atwood’s powers are on full display.... Everyone should read The Testaments.” (Los Angeles Times

What listeners say about The Testaments

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

the story almost started- but then nope!

I wanted very badly to love this. or even like it a little-nothing close happened. Just about when you'd think the characters are developed enough to actually do something: the end. -but not like a big "the end" more of just "I'm tired of writing let's wrap this sh!t up and be done".

the narration was at least good (but could've done without Atwood announcing different parts/chapters. imo she's not hit the voice for that).

spoiler : the last 20 minutes was more of a waste of time than the first 13(?) mind numbing hours.

17 people found this helpful

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Well...

It was good... I wanted to like it more because I loved the first book and the show. With that being said I couldn’t put it down and wanted to see what happened to the characters. Ann was great, but the narrators of Daisy and Agnes sound exactly the same. I don’t know how to put this without giving anything away so I’ll just say that some of the plot was just a little silly. Over all though if you liked the first book and the show, it’s definitely worth the listen and it’s entertaining.

28 people found this helpful

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It does what a sequel should do.

**No spoilers**

Atwood did so many things right with this book. It builds upon the world she created over 30 years ago, staying true to the form and style of the original, but with effective changes as well (e.g. the triple narrator). My favorite part was the fleshing out of a secondary character from "The Handmaid's Tale", as that character moved into one of the narrator roles and gained both complexity and humanity.

I am not experienced with literary analysis, but a few layman's observations that I would consider minor detractions are a slightly too streamlined/convenient plot to get one of the narrators advancing toward where she needed to be, as well as the pacing of the the final quarter of the book. I certainly understand things picking up as everything comes together, but it did seem both a little sudden and a little too quick.

Is "The Testaments" as powerful and groundbreaking as "The Handmaid's Tale"? No, but I don't think any of us expected it to be. We have already been shocked by the Puritan-esque, post-revolutionary Iran-inspired world of the Republic of Gilead, but what Atwood does with "The Testaments" is give us vibrant, deep, rich characters who are inspiring and flawed and add another layer to the fictional land we know so well, while at the same time updating the implicit warning of "The Handmaid's Tale" for the modern world.

The audio production is fantastic. I listen at 3.5x, and everything sounded great. I did check the audio at normal speed, and some of you may find it a tad on the slow side, but that is easily remedied with the app. In this case, I found the multiple narrators very effective, as it really made the older character POP. The two younger character voices blended a bit in my mind, but they were both well done. As for Derek Jacobi... well, he's Derek Freakin' Jacobi!

108 people found this helpful

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Oh Ann, how I love thee!

First, let me say - I am a big Ann Dowd fan. She is a badass actress. I was so happy to hear her voice portraying Aunt Lydia. She is well spoken and terrifying! She is amazing at this. At any rate, I never gave much thought to how “Aunt Lydia” came to be- I had assumed she was just part of the true believers in Gilead. It brought forth a new light of the capture of her person, who she was, the vengeance she held. Mayday is alive and kicking - I finished the book with tears and a feeling hope for all. Great sequel!

32 people found this helpful

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Ann Dowd’s narration was best part of story.

I’m in the minority, but I didn’t care for this follow up. I loved the Handmaid’s Tale, with Offred’s brave endurance in an impossible world gone mad. This wrap up of Gilead was rather slight, too easy, and more of a YA novel, with teenagers acting typically as teenagers do. The Nicole thing, blended in to the TV series, which disappointed me. I was hoping for more originality from the author.

5 people found this helpful

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Do not recommend

I have re-read the original novel many times, and I think one of its major achievements is its poetic and insular nature--essentially making the rise of Gilead (and its reworking of society) a chamber piece in the the house at which Offred is stationed, and furthermore, in her mind during her many periods of musing during forced solitude and stillness. There is a lyricism to the prose in these moments that perfectly captures the mind spinning its wheels in boredom.
The quote in that work about paintings of harems being not about sex but about boredom, about women in suspended animation, still haunts me. Offred is also an everywoman in the sense that she is not particularly courageous nor cunning, and this relatability makes the action sequences at the novel's end feel more earned and credible.

The Testaments has none of those qualities. It traded in the silence and poetry of the former for plotting straight out of a "B" action movie. I laughed out loud when one character is put through a self defense regimen lifted from a Jason Statham movie or the like. I am a long time Atwood fan, but her worst tendencies are manifest here (as they were in her disappointing The Heart Goes Last, and to some extent, The MadAdam Trilogy)--cheesy wordplay, a feeling of Dickensian coincidence that is contrived at best, clunky humor before heart or logic. Its greatest strength lay in the acerbic wit of Aunt Lydia, who should have been the only narrator of the work. Atwood's ability to accurately depict the pettiness and cruelty of children and teenagers, evidenced in Cat's Eye and The Blind Assassin, is absent in the other two young narrators. One is a cliché of a capricious and petulant teen and the other failed to engage my interest entirely.

45 people found this helpful

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Atwood KILLED IT

Beautifully, and thoughtfully written sequel which answered so many questions for us Handmaids Tale lovers.
So curious to see if the show takes the same direction in future seasons. I hope so. Her Aunt Lydia backstory is better than what the show writers came up with. But she did take some things from the show which I liked. We’re in a weird age where a book written 35 or so years ago can suddenly become MORE famous that it was when it was written. I’m grateful to Hulu for the show- without which I may never have discovered Atwood and had the opportunity to read her books.
I only hope Atwood gives us another book for this series. Let’s make it a trilogy. Pre-quel perhaps? With some Nick and Serena backstory?

52 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

I thought the first part of the book was exceptional. It's like Atwood spent 35 years on it. Well-written with such detail and level of character development, helping the reader fully understand how the Lydia character became who she was, although how Gilead's people all fell into line with everything it became will apparently always remain a literary mystery. Then if felt as if she wrote the last half in 35 days, just to wrap it up. All too neat, too silly, the coincidences and circumstances too ridiculous. I was highly disappointed. Not at all the book for which I've waited years. However, engaging Ann Dowd to read the Aunt Lydia part was an outstanding decision.

25 people found this helpful

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Extension and departure from the TV show

4-4.5 stars

This is excellent as an audiobook (much like The Handmaids Tale) and I devoured it.

It has an odd relationship to the TV show. On the one hand, if you haven’t watched the show there will be some confusion early on as you won’t know who Baby Nicole is / what that is about. On the other there are some clear departures from the show. For example you learn Aunt Lydia was once a family court judge (this makes more sense to me than her background on the show)

The book switches between three narratives: Aunt Lydia, a girl who grew up in Gilead, and a girl who grew up in Canada.

The book takes places some years after the first book storyline though because of the twist at the end.

Aunt Lydia is writing her memoirs secretly. You learn about her background, more of what happened when America fell, how she became such a prominent figure in Gilead (she becomes even more famous) and her motivations.

You also hear interviews from a girl in Gilead. It reminded me of a memoir I read by a woman who was raised as a polygamist Mormon.

There’s also the “live” storyline of the teen girl living in Canada. You get her perspective and then eventually her identity is revealed.

This is where are larger departure from the show happens, particularly the end of the last season.

Overall I didn’t find this has as much impact or
Social commentary as the first one but so loved spending more time with these characters and getting a background of Aunt Lydia they didn’t suck (that episode was terrible)

Ann Dowd (Aunt Lydia) is one of the narrators

28 people found this helpful

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Very, Very Disappointmented

Honestly I have no idea why there are so many people who rated this book so highly. It was good but I was expecting something completely different I suppose. I almost wish I gave it a miss because I loved The Handmaids Tale so much. I wanted to know more. I’ll stop there for spoiler reasons.

3 people found this helpful