Review: The Testaments

I wanted to read this book almost as soon as I heard it was going to be written. The trouble with that is that I built it up in my head so much that I feared the reality couldn’t possibly match my wishes. Not only did the book meet my expectations, it surpassed them incredibly. This one is a keeper for years and years to come.

The Testaments is Margaret Atwood’s latest novel and one that she refused to write for over thirty years. It completes her earlier work, The Handmaid’s Tale. In an interview, she explained that the reason she decided to write it was that: “Instead of going away from Gilead, we turned around and started coming back towards Gilead.” She’s dead on.

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Timing is just right for this book. It might not have hit us the same way 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. But, right now, it’s an incredibly pertinent and important document to read. And, such an amazing piece of writing.

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Timing wasn’t, of course, what I loved most about this book. I picked up the hardcover (and I never, ever buy hardcovers) and read two paragraphs…and I knew I had to buy it. I loved, loved the content, the tone and the way she wrote, almost immediately.

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The book is written by different narrators-that I won’t explain so as to not ruin it for others. Each perspective has a very different perspective into the life in Gilead and each is rich with information, history and flavour. Eventually, without giving away too much, things merge and out of it comes, finally, the conclusion to the Handmaid’s Tale.

I loved each of the different perspectives. I was fascinated with the theocracy that Margaret Atwood had created. I thought it was authentic, brutally realistic without becoming overdone, and showed astute insight into human nature. As I read, I couldn’t help but to agree with the narrator’s logic and choices. As horrific as Gilead was, I could understand what transpired in the book, I could see why they had done the terrible things that they had done. It made logical sense.

It was also fascinating that the narrators didn’t destroy the mystery or the twists that happened in the book. I was left hanging, desperately hanging, at the end of each chapter, not knowing what was going to happen next.

I have many beefs with some books where characters step out of character, where rules that were once inviolable are suddenly broken, where the remnants of the plot are artificially twisted into a semblance of order at the end. I was so relieved that this book did none of those things. The ending was realistic and fit a grim and very plausible storyline. The characters stayed true to their beliefs, personalities and history. And nothing impossible according to Gileadian rules happened.

Better still, I was hooked. This is a book I read in bits of time stolen while my husband and I tried to get our house listed on the market. I snuck that book into work, tried to read while people talked around me and even moved important things aside so I could read it. It was addictive in the most delicious sense. If I could design heaven, it would be filled with books just like this one.

I absolutely recommend it. If you’re a fan of dystopian novels, female fiction or suspense, this book will fit you like a glove. You do not need to have read The Handmaid’s Tale to get hooked either. Try a couple of paragraphs, I bet you’re like me and can’t put the thing down. It was magical.

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New exciting book

Margaret Atwood is a very famous name around here. Not only is she a well known author, she’s Canadian.

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She’s also the author of The Handmaid’s Tale – a very successful book and a great TV series.

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Now, the reason for this post is that she’s just come out with the sequel to the book. People have been waiting for the sequel literally for decades and Margaret Atwood always said she wasn’t going to write it. Now, however, she has changed her mind.

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I, for one, can’t wait to get my grubby little paws on this one. Yum!

My ridiculous issue with The Handmaid’s Tale

I have an issue with The Handmaid’s Tale. A pretty ridiculous one too.

After last season’s ending, I was pretty miffed with the show…but this season I watched it again…only to have another issue pop up.

Here’s the thing. I work with the public. I won’t go into details of the job but suffice it to say that I see plenty of people on a daily basis. After many years of working with the public, I can tell you that some are lovely, wonderful people…and some are one raisin away from being a total fruit cake.

Case in point: We have a waiting area that we keep as pleasant, inviting and comfortable as possible. There are chairs to sit in, magazines to read and even water for those who are thirsty. We have tried to remove all and any stressors from the waiting area.

Of course, the public has managed to have all sorts of issues and freak outs in our waiting area. They have fainted, had allergic reactions, complained about every issue imaginable and one almost gave birth in it. A day doesn’t go by without someone getting upset.

So, how on earth do the people in Gilead keep all the women subdued and quiet? How do they manage to keep them all from freaking out? How do they keep the handmaids from killing someone or even each other? I can’t even imagine the gossip, the resentments, the beefs that they would have. They would have so many issues, they would be lining up to tattle tale on each other. The eyes would be swamped with the lists of grievances.

Okay, I did warn you.

This is definitely a ridiculous grief.

Okay, quick change of topic! How was your day? 😀

 

Where I change my mind

When I saw the ending of the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale, I was determined to never watch the show again. I won’t say the reason (to avoid spoilers) but that ending just sent me reeling. I couldn’t watch more of more of the same show and it seemed like nothing was going to change. I just couldn’t watch the same terrible things again.

And then I saw this…

And suddenly, I can’t wait to watch it. I can’t wait to see Gilead fall. I really hope that’s what we get, because I’d love to see it. In fact, I can’t wait to see it.

The Handmaid’s Tale Review

Please note that there are some serious spoilers up ahead. Please do not read on. Stay away and do not continue. That’s it. Not for your eyes. Go away.

I’ve rambled on about The Handmaid’s Tale on my little blog before. I have had a lot of trouble with the violence it showed and the grotesque, horrific ‘punishments’ the protagonist endured. Still, I’ve been mesmerized by the book and, surprisingly, the show.

It’s rare that a show or movie can capture the soul of a book. The Handmaid’s Tale came close…until this season’s finale.

First, I should explain that the show has been so violent and so dark, that I was ready for anything happening as a finale. We’ve been following our heroine for 2 years but I was ready for her to die (she has come close several times) or be tortured (again) or dismembered or some other hideous form of torture. I had hugged my doggies and I was ready.

What did happened was almost worst than anything I had prepared myself for. Not because it was terrible, but rather because it made no sense. After two seasons of the show faithfully portraying the dystopian society drunk in its religious fervour, happily abusing and torturing our heroine, she refuses to escape and stays there.

What?, you say. Oh, I hear you. If her sacrifice to stay had served some purpose, I would have been on board. If it had made sense because of who our heroine is, I would have been on board too. But the only thing this ending serves is as a way to keep our heroine in the middle of turmoil and birth another season.

In other words. I’m not on board.

Oh. And I’m not scared any more either.

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If interested, here are some other reviews of the show and the seasons both 1 and 2.

P.S. Isn’t it also little coincidental that the very house that Offred ends up in had not just a sympathetic Eye but a Martha that is part of the Mayday escape route?

Where I’m terrified

I’ve been watching a series for a year or so. It’s the Handmaid’s Tale and it’s terrifying. The show is so scary, I can barely stand to watch it. I almost get physically sick at the thought of what might happen.

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But I can’t stop watching.

I don’t like to tell people what to do. So I won’t start here. But if I could tell myself what to do, it would be to never start watching. I’ve read the book and it wasn’t as scary and awful as the show. And I never once thought, this could become reality, with the book.

With the show, it’s a thought that doesn’t leave my mind. And I think that’s the most horrific part of the entire ordeal.

A post I loved…

I’ve watched the show The Handmaid’s Tale. I read the book. It was one of those I couldn’t, couldn’t put down. It was incredibly addictive…and terrifying. I had nightmares for two days after I started reading the book…and this week, the absolutely horrible attacks on Manchester haven’t helped.

The book is terrifying because it seems like our world is only steps away from making it come reality and not fiction. It’s also terrifying because all of the things in it have already happened at some point in history, so none can be denied with a ‘that’ll never happen’ sort of comment.

But, as always, words fail me when I think of the great parts of the book and movie. And, then I saw this post that puts into words some of the things my little brain couldn’t. I absolutely loved it. Big thanks to Part Time Monster for that wonderful read.

Last week, as I was watching “A Woman’s Place,” the sixth episode of Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I was struck with a realization: I had not watched a single episode of the show without flipping through the social media feeds on my phone or my laptop simultaneously. So I started to think […]

via Why I Have to Look away from The Handmaid’s Tale Sometimes, and Why That’s a Good Thing — Part-Time Monster

Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

It’s happened to me before, I grab a book and, a few pages later, I have to buy it. Well, it happened again. This time it was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It’s a negative dystopian novel, so definitely not my usual read but it was still incredibly addictive. I couldn’t put the thing down.

It was also terrifying. I dreamt about the book for two nights in a row.

Without giving too much away, the story is about Offred who is a Handmaid in the future of the US. In this setting, humankind is suffering from the inability to have children and, among other things, they have forced women who have working ovaries into being surrogates.

I say among other things because the entire civilization is incredibly controlled. With high-level monitoring, people only have to say the word and a black van comes and takes someone away. The entire country runs on a mixture of cultish religious mix and political agenda that’s really scary.

To better subdue the women they capture into willing handmaids, the women are taken to a centre where they get a dose of brainwashing mixed with a healthy amount of ‘religious beliefs’ and some physical torture to finish the deal. Everything from their name to their rights are completely taken away. They are named after the couple they are given to and are to pray that they get impregnated quickly so they can bear their couple a healthy baby.

The Handmaid’s Tale is part warning, part narrative. Offred is our guide through this terrifying world. She’s trying to survive so that she can find her daughter (also taken away) and escape.

I loved how well thought out the world was. Pretty much everything from the shopping stores to the clothing was carefully designed to fit into the story and it completed the picture perfectly. I particularly loved their dialogue and scripted answers to greetings. It depicts cults perfectly and gives a very real impression of what total control of government/cult can look like.

I also have to add that the book was actually written in 1986, where computers, the web and all our technological advances were mere figments of the imagination. The book still does a very competent and accurate projection of what the future will look like. There were no jarring shocks of mistakes along the lines of computers or technology.

To boot, there’s a new series on TV based on this book running right now and it’s getting great reviews. I saw the first episodes of it and it seems like a great adaptation of the book; really faithful to the writing and storyline.

So, absolutely, this one is a book I’d highly recommend. If you’re into dystopian society or just interested in a fun, entertaining read, check it out. I honestly couldn’t put the thing down until I had read the last page. It was mesmerizing.

(credit: amazon.ca)

Note: click on cover to go to site.