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Big Bend Community College William C. Bonaudi Library

#BigBendCCBookChallenge Book Talk November: Jennifer McCarthy on The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

by Rhonda Kitchens on 2020-10-26T21:12:00-07:00 | Comments

Book Talk:  Jennifer McCarthy
Book Title: The Testaments
Book Author:  Margaret Atwood




Image of cover of Margaret Atwood's Book Testaments

The Testaments (2020) is a dystopian novel of resistance.
This extremely creative and well-crafted sequel to The
Handmaid’s Tale (1985) opens with the unveiling of a statue
carved of stone to honor the still-living persona of the leader
of the Aunts who live at Ardua Hall. The Aunts are the women
who are tasked with controlling and educating the female
members of Gilead, the puritan theocracy that emerged
in the ashes of the former United States of America.
They are the Aunts who train the females in Gilead in
their respective roles in society as Wife, Martha (servant),
Econowife (left to the reader to interpret), or Handmaid
(a fertile female able to conceive and bear children for the
top echelon of men, the Commanders). The Aunts live all
together in Ardua Hall, where they alone among Gileadean
women are allowed to learn to read and write.

There is nothing straight-forward about this novel,
the characters or the plot; three separate narrative
lines serve to make reading it both a challenge and
 pleasure. The novel is told through three different
Testaments of the female experience within and
without Gilead. The first of these is that of the Aunt
who writes in secret and keeps her manuscript safely
hidden. The second and third are in the form of written
transcripts of oral testimony from two women of Gilead
who bore witness to the events.
 The stories revealed in
these three trains of narration are at times humorous,
tragic, harrowing, and incredible.

For this reader, they all highlight the power of literate
women to fight back against an oppressive regime,
to insist upon autonomy for her own body and
procreative potential, and to change the world. In
The Testaments, Margaret Atwood has published
THE novel for 2020.


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