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  • Published: 10 September 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784742324
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $48.00

The Testaments

WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE 2019




In this electrifying sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood answers the question that has tantalised readers for decades: What happened to Offred?

The wait is over

And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.

When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her – freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

‘Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.’ Margaret Atwood

  • Pub date: 10 September 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784742324
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $48.00

About the Author

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her novels include Cat's Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin and the MaddAddam Trilogy. Her 1985 classic The Handmaid's Tale went back into the bestseller charts with the election of Donald Trump, when the Handmaids became a symbol of resistance against him; and the 2017 release of the award-winning Channel 4 TV series. Sales of the English language edition have now topped 8 million copies worldwide.

Atwood has won numerous awards including the Booker Prize, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

Also by Margaret Atwood

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Praise for The Testaments

“But the biggest name, with the year’s biggest book, is Margaret Atwood: her Handmaid’s Tale sequel The Testaments”

Guardian

“A work of brilliant and searing defiance”

MJ Hyland

“The Testaments is Atwood at her best, in its mixture of generosity, insight and control. The prose is adroit, direct, beautifully turned. All over the reading world, the history books are being opened to the next blank page and Atwood’s name is written at the top of it. To read this book is to feel the world turning”

Anne Enright, Guardian

“The Testaments is a much more accessible book than its brilliant yet forbidding predecessor. At times it races along like a spy thriller written by Charles Dickens, rich in suspense, coincidence and messy humanity… Atwood… has an incredible intellectual nimbleness that challenges us constantly and poses…question[s] that lies like a pearl inside the shell of this frighteningly readable novel”

Allison Pearson, Sunday Telegraph

“One of the year’s big novels will undoubtedly be Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments”

The Times

“A cracker: urgent, moving and as tense as any thriller... there's a darkly rebellious humour, ingenious wordplay and, of course, chillingly timely warnings. Atwood is long overdue a Nobel”

Hepzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday

“An incredible follow-up”

Jade Craddock, the Sun, *Pick of the Week*

“For my money, the single most exciting publishing event of the year”

Bookseller

“Margaret Atwood has just done her own thing and now she is one of those authors who is helping to change the culture. I love her for her politics. When The Handmaid's Tale was published in 1985, it just seemed that that kind of theocracy and patriarchy she was depicting couldn't happen, the world was progressing, but look where we are”

Jeanette Winterson, Sunday Times

“The book may surprise readers who wondered, when the sequel was announced, whether Atwood was making a mistake in returning to her earlier work. She has said that The Testaments was inspired by readers’ questions about the inner workings of Gilead, and also by “the world we’ve been living in.” But it seems to have another aim as well: to help us see more clearly the kinds of complicity required for constructing a world like the one she had already imagined, and the world we fear our own might become”

Jia Tolentino, New Yorker

“It is an addictively readable, fastpaced adventure... the rhyme of reality with fiction is loud and devastatingly clear... In The Testaments, Atwood changes the emphasis of the plot, to strike a note of optimism – a hopeful reminder that resistance is possible and such regimes do eventually always fall”

Holly Williams, Independent

“Finding hope in a hopeless place, this is everything The Handmaid’s Tale fans wanted and more. Prepare to hold your breath throughout, and to cry real tears at the end. My book of the year”

Kayleigh Dray, Stylist

“A plump, pacy, witty and tightly plotted page-turner that transports us straight back to the dark heart of Gilead... Atwood is on top form”

Julie Myerson, Observer

“One of the most eagerly awaited books of the year”

Daily Express

“With surgical clarity, Atwood documents how the stripping of fundamental freedoms, the weight of systemic oppression, pushes individuals to extremes... Atwood had this book in her? The pacing is flawless. The prose is lean, mean, and charged”

David Canfield, Entertainment Weekly

“Atwood’s prose is as powerful as ever, tense and spare... I finished in six hours flat”

Laura Freeman, BBC.com

“While unflinching in depicting horror and showing how complicity enables the collapse of compassion, The Testaments is also a clarion call to hope, resistance and activism... The Testaments is a formidable achievement that will doubtless be read in decades to come”

Anita Sethi, i news

“We'll be poring over The Handmaid's Tale for the 100th time in readiness”

Good Housekeeping

“It will be one of the literary events of the year”

Vogue

“Ingenuity has always delighted Atwood. Here she revels in it... The twists and turns of an extravagantly suspenseful final race for freedom are done with bravura relish”

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

“A mix of high and low, literary powerhouse and pop-culture icon, filled with homespun wisdom and razor-sharp observation”

Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star

“An era-defining masterpiece”

Waterstones.com

“The very act of writing or recording one’s experiences, Atwood argues, is “an act of hope."... in testifying to what they have witnessed, Offred, Nicole, Agnes and, yes, Lydia are leaving behind accounts that will challenge official Gileadean narratives, and in doing so, they are standing up to the regime’s determination to silence women by telling their own stories in their own voices”

Michiko Katutani, New York Times

“The must-read novel of the year -- a perfect gift for bookworms and fans of the TV series”

Sunday Telegraph

“Margaret Atwood saw it all coming”

Lucy Feldman, Time

“The Testaments take us to a subtly altered Gilead and, in many ways, a more hopeful one... a rallying cry for activism that argues for the connectedness of societies and their peoples... Atwood's task in returning to the world of her best-known work was a big one, but the result is a success that more than justifies her Booker prize shortlisting”

Alex Clark, Guardian

“Fluent, imaginative and provocative”

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

“A confluence of political and cultural forces has made The Testaments as vital as a baby in Gilead”

Ron Charles, Washington Post

“It’s a very diferent novel from The Handmaid’s Tale, charged with the optimism of change rather than drenched in nightmarish sweat... terrific”

Claire Allfree, Metro

“It is a measure of Atwood's virtuosity as a writer... that rather than picking up where she left off in 1985 when The Handmaid's Tale was published, she has written such a perfect companion piece”

Mary Carr, Mail on Sunday Ireland

“The oppressed feminist shriek of the first novel gets its more optimistic echo in The Testaments... has the dramatic thrust and power to scorch the memory”

Serena Davies, Daily Telegraph

“Like all good dystopian writers, she presents us with a cracked mirror in which we are asked to see distorted images of ourselves”

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Times

“Last week's release of Atwood's sequel, The Testaments, made the last Harry Potter launch look like a wet November afternoon... a truly dazzling literary feat that -- blessed be the fruit -- entirely lives up to the hope and the hype... Atwood's particular genius is pushing and pushing at sexist tropes until they reach their grotesque but ultimately logical conclusion”

Ceri Radford, Independent

“Taylor Swift would kill for this kind of drama... Now, to read it”

Alice Jones, i paper

“Brace yourself”

Lorraine Candy, Sunday Times

“While The Handmaid's Tale explored how totalitarian regimes come to power, The Testaments delves into how they begin to fracture... Atwood is at the top of her game”

#1 Book of the Year, Amazon.com

“The power of her [Atwood’s] writing is undeniable”

Lorraine Candy, Sunday Times

“If The Handmaid's Tale is disturbing, The Testaments is, in many ways, even more so. Less violent, sure, but Gilead isn't fresh and new at this point. It is a society that has existed for well over a decade, and as such it has become normality for all those who live there...this is, perhaps, far more frightening than the punishments and cruelty we see in the original text”

Ann Dowd, Stylist

“The Testaments is that elusive dream of a book—an erudite, accessible, highly readable adventure, that brims with ideas but never lets them get in the way of the story”

Cathy Rentzenbrink, Prospect

“The greatest penwoman on the planet”

Private Eye

“A hopeful tale. It reassures us that we are right to fear our enemies and right to resist them, and that totalitarianism can be seen off... The heroines in The Testaments are marvellously resourceful... It is massively satisfying to find this kind of heightened reality in fiction”

Natasha Walter, Guardian

“[The Testaments] is gripping and full of incident, a deft balance of horror and wit… As ever, Atwood cuts to the truth about women and power”

Johanna Thomas-Corr, Evening Standard, *Book of the Week*

“At its heart, this gripping novel is a rallying call for action... In Atwood's world, resistance is never futile”

Mernie Gilmore, Daily Express

“The literary release of the year... The Testaments is ultimately a hopeful novel, filled with female resistance against oppression”

Grazia

“Gripping and full of incident, a deft balance of horror and wit”

Evening Standard

“Atwood is our high sorceress, a very grownup one, with a truly unnerving knack for auspicious timing... Like Kafka and Orwell, Atwood has become part of the public discourse”

Lisa Allardice, Guardian

“After Donald Trump's election, Ms Atwood came to be seen by some as a soothsayer... If The Handmaid's Tale was a warning, The Testaments has a more positive message... Ms Atwood says that it reflects a sense of hopefulness on her part”

The Economist

“Amid the concern...about the imperilled state of liberal democracy on both sides of the Atlantic, the publication of The Testaments could hardly be better timed... Atwood's dark vision of modern totalitarianism, fuelled by unbridled capitalism, ecological meltdown, collapsing birth rates, and rising religious extremism no longer looks darkly speculative, but alarmingly familiar”

Rebecca Abrams, Financial Times

“It delivers superbly. The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance . . . providing its readers first with a road map and secondly with hope”

Sarah Crown, Literary Review

“From her three testaments, Atwood has conjured a compelling sequel to The Handmaid's Tale that is tautly plotted in spare, economical prose”

Spectator

“For those waiting to find out what happened next, The Testaments is a fantastic conclusion to the story”

Sarah Bates, Socialist Worker

“How transgressive, deliciously dangerous, even outrageous, she can and needs to be... And the four hundred and fourteen pages of The Testaments gave Atwood plenty of room for just that”

Esquire

“The transgressive, deliciously dangerous mind of Margaret Atwood”

Esquire

“Believe the reviews, it is remarkable”

Lindsay Woods, Irish Examiner

“A feast”

Josie Long, Guardian

“Lydia's fascinating tale serves almost as a prequel, while the girls' stirring battle is peppered with pithy wit. Praise be”

Deirdre O'Brien, Sunday Mirror

“A fascinating followup to Atwood's initial story of Gilead, giving sharp insights into power and collusion...gripping, pacy and beautifully written”

Justine Jordan, Guardian

“A truly dazzling literary feat that – blessed be the fruit – entirely lives up to the hope and the hype… Atwood’s particular genius is pushing and pushing at sexist tropes until they reach their grotesque but ultimately logical conclusion”

Ceri Radford, Independent

“Beautiful in its depth... It is in some ways the continuation and in some sense a response to the extraordinarily powerful world of Gilead she created in The Handmaid's Tale 30-odd years ago. There is a need now to look at what complicity, resilience and resistance might look like”

Peter Florence, Chair of Booker Judges, The Times

“The Testaments calls for thought and reflection… ideological commitment is not its only characteristic. It is also a thriller, with a fast-paced plot featuring many entangled concealments and dramatic confrontations… Atwood’s writing is at its incisive best... Atwood is not simply responding to our current anxieties… it is also her own testament, and a renewal of the warning of The Handmaid’s Tale”

Dinah Birch, Times Literary Supplement

“Compelling, poignant and controlled, Atwood's latest work will have any reader gripped”

Harper's Bazaar

“The Testaments is all the better for choosing other, quieter forms of resistance for women under Gilead’s rule… The sequel is able to buoy you as a reader in a way The Handmaid’s Tale had no interest in doing, but sit with it and it’s still slippery and at times satisfyingly unsatisfying. This is an intriguing book from a woman who knows she can do bleak any day of the week”

Sophie Charara, Wired

“The Testaments combines gripping entertainment with a complex sense of humanity”

Sarah Ditum, Lancet

“Atwood's voice has become a rallying cry against climate change and threats to equality”

Time

“The hoopla around the launch of Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is more reminiscent of the unveiling of an iPhone or something Pokemon related than that of a mere book”

Johanna Thomas-Corr, Observer

“The Testaments has come at the right moment for her as well as us because she's now a real sage”

Jeanette Winterson, Observer

“Terrifying, rage-inducing and utterly gripping”

Eastern Daily Press

“She's always before her time. Each novel is about something people become incredibly interested in half an hour later... There is this tradition of women's writing that uses irony and lightness of touch to deliver monstrous concepts and beliefs. It's that ironic voice that has helped her seamlessly move from one generation of reader to the next. That is the test of a great writer”

Carmen Callil, Observer

“A savage and beautiful novel, and it speaks to us today, all around the world, with particular conviction and power... The bar is set particularly high for Atwood and she soars over it... I can’t wait for everyone to read it”

Peter Florence, Booker Prize judge, Guardian

“An incredible follow-up”

Natasha Harding, The Sun

“Thrilling and blistering”

Daily Telegraph

“‘Reminds us of the vital connection between words and power and how important it is to validate women’s words in particular”

Susan Watkins, Morning Star

“The Testaments cements Aunt Lydia as one of the most fascinatingly monstrous anti-heroes in fiction”

Abigail Chandler, SciFiNow

“Atwood cracks open the claustrophobic world of Gilead and lets in some much-needed light and hope. Spare, tense and exciting”

Psychologies

“Atwood has conjured a compelling sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale that is tautly plotted in spare, economical prose… In The Testaments, Atwood succeeds in regaining control of Gilead through words”

Ruth Scurr, Spectator

“Spoiler discretion and a ferocious non-disclosure agreement prevent any description of who, how, why and even where. So this: it’s terrifying and exhilarating”

Judges of the Booker Prize, Guardian

“Terrifying and exhilarating”

Peter Florence, Booker Prize judge, Guardian

“Atwood’s musings on power and the patterns of history [is] as incisive as ever”

Justine Jordon, Guardian, *Books of the Year*

“Undeniably page-turning stuff”

Robbie Millen and James Marriot, The Times, *Books of the Year*

“The Testaments provided the perfect escapist pleasure, cleverly knitting together strands from both her novel The Handmaid’s Tale and its television adaptation. Observing Atwood work with two storytelling mediums has been an education”

Hallie Rubenhold, Observer, *Books of the Year*

“A publishing sensation”

Woman & Home

“The perfect escapist pleasure”

Hallie Rubenhold, winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize 2019, Guardian

“Page-turning stuff”

The Times

“Canada's visionary”

Monocle


Discover More

Video
Margaret Atwood was recorded in Waterstones Piccadilly reading from her new novel, The Testaments, before she rang a bell to commence sales.
News
The Testaments is to be published September 2019.
Article
Suzanne Dean, Creative Director at Vintage, reveals how she went about working on the top secret brief for one of the world’s most anticipated books, The Testaments.
Q&A
Margaret Atwood discusses her return to Gilead.

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