Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments follows Aunt Lydia and June’s daughter, Hannah from the first book, The Handmaid’s Tale some 15 years later. It also includes narrative from Nicole, June’s daughter introduced in the Hulu series. If you read past here, you will certainly encounter spoilers.
The three testaments are interwoven to follow a timeline. Aunt Lydia tries to explain why she has done the things she has in Gilead in order to survive. If her story is supposed to excuse her actions and evoke sympathy for her, it did not do so in my case. She goes where the wind blows to most benefit herself. A rat that sees the ship about to sink, she sends proof of crimes committed by Commanders and others to Mayday.
Agnes/Hannah provides us with a good look at what it is like to be raised as a Commander’s daughter. I’m guessing that Aunt Lydia has a soft spot for her since Agnes is June’s daughter and helps to protect her when it matters most.
Daisy/Jade/Nicole has been raised by foster parents in Canada though she believes they are her birth parents. Once her parents are murdered her whole world changes as she finds out that she is the famous Baby Nicole.
There are a couple of things that bothered me about this story. First, why didn’t Agnes find out that her real name was Hannah when given her bloodline information? Second, the math doesn’t add up. If Agnes is 14 when she becomes a junior aunt and it is 9 years later when she meets Nicole that would make her 23. Yet, Nicole is 16 when she meets Agnes and Agnes is supposed to be 8 or 9 years older. That would make Agnes 24 or 25, not 23.
The book left a LOT of questions unanswered that I do hope Hulu covers in future seasons. All in all, I felt cheated. I expected more. If Atwood wanted to wrap things up in this book, she failed miserably. Yes, it had a “happy ending”. Yes, we find out that Gilead does implode but after these testaments. And, you find out how really evil Aunt Lydia was.
3 out of 5 stars.