Book review: The Testaments


The Testaments by Margaret Atwood McClelland & Stewart, 2019

By: Barry Weisleder

Margaret Atwood’s 2019 Man Booker Prize-winning sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale” offers a glimpse of a grim future, a post-Trump, totalitarian, arch-patriarchal society. It depicts a fragment of the USA called Gilead, and how, after a century, it unravels.

Atwood has a master painter’s eye for detail, and a searing feminist insight. Absent, however, is any evident struggle between classes. In place of it is the ponderous weight of ideological contradiction, the burden of which bears down on the rulers, and the ruled. Corruption and factionalism at the top of the state foment decay that proves fatal to the structure. Missing is the intervention of any social movement.

Atwood’s characters bring to life a complex panoply of oppression and personal survival. As a psycho-drama, it is one of the best.