The most highly-anticipated book release of 2019, The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s companion novel to her 1985 dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale, was waiting for me on my Kindle when I woke up this morning (it’s Tuesday, September 10 as I write this). I wanted to spend all day reading, but alas, the duties of adulthood call.
But as soon as I got home I picked it up, and I wanted to do something to document this experience, as I feel like this is not just any ordinary book. This feels momentous, historic, even, and I want to have some kind of record of my real-time reactions to this novel. And then, I thought, why not put those reactions on the internet for all to read. (Well, all probably 10 or so people who will actually read this.)
So here we are. This is my… testament… of The Testaments.
Some Pre-reading Thoughts
I already know that this is mostly narrated by Aunt Lydia, and the actress who plays Aunt Lydia in the Hulu series even narrates the audiobook, which is really cool.
And I know that this is about 15 years after the ending of the original book, and I think I read somewhere that Offred makes sort of a cameo appearance, or is maybe just talked about but not seen? I don’t know, I guess I’ll find out.
I believe I also read that Atwood had the TV series in mind while writing this, so the second and third seasons of the show, which move beyond the story of the first book, are officially “canon” in Atwood’s created world; she’s not ignoring what happened on the show for The Testaments, so it’s not like a Star Wars Legends type of situation.
I’ll have to find the articles where I got these bits of information and link them later. But now, I’m ready to start reading.
Here We Go!
- The title of this chapter is “The Ardua Hall Holograph.” Intriguing. Margaret Atwood sure knows how to write a chapter title.
- So Aunt Lydia has her own statue, cool, cool. Like Chairman Mao.
- Sounds like a creepy statue.
- Wait, Aunt Lydia is writing? I thought it was a crime for a woman to read and write in Gilead? Were the Aunts an exception? I should have reread The Handmaid’s Tale before starting this, maybe…
- Yeah, I’d like to just drink some warm milk and go to sleep now, too, Aunt Lydia, but I’m doing this now. Aunt Lydia gets it.
- “But among these bloody fingerprints are those made by ourselves, and these can’t be wiped away so easily. Over the years I’ve buried a lot of bones; now I’m inclined to dig them up again…” Wow. Chills.
- Oh, okay, she has to hide her pages from surveillance cameras, so Aunts must not be legally allowed to read and write, after all. Either that, or she’s worried about getting in trouble for the CONTENT of what she’s written. Is Aunt Lydia a secret Mayday operative?
- Also, every time I see the name Lydia I just think of Lydia Bennet. And now I’m thinking about some weird, surreal The Handmaid’s Tale/Pride & Prejudice mashup, which I’d kind of like to see, quite honestly.
- “Wait, I counsel them silently: it will get worse.” Okay, she’s definitely part of the resistance and I love it.
- Wow, that was short. Like three pages. I was expecting a long chapter. Should I continue live blogging for chapter two?
I decided to pause there. I’m going to keep reading the book, but I’m not going to live blog any more of it. I could do another chapter or two, since the first one was so short, but where would I draw the line?
Do you have your copy of The Testaments yet? Have you read it? What are your thoughts?
Okay, reading now, see you in a bit!