Shrouded in secrecy, but the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale is no masterpiece, says ANTHONY CUMMINS

Mail Online | 9/5/2019 | Anthony Cummins For The Daily Mail
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The breathless anticipation around The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to her dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale, has been fuelled by its shortlisting for the Booker Prize.

Hoopla - Week - Amazon - Truck - Book

But the promotional hoopla was deflated this week when Amazon drove a 20-ton truck through the book’s media embargo by shipping copies from its warehouse ahead of time to readers in the US.

The people feeling sheepish on this side of the Atlantic should be this year’s Booker judges, who have somehow let themselves believe The Testaments is one of 2019’s six best novels.

Atwood - Novel - Taut - Satire - Imprisonment

Atwood’s original 1985 novel was a taut, chilling satire imagining the imprisonment of American women in a near-future New England theocracy known as Gilead, where they serve as concubines and surrogate mothers – Handmaids – or, if they’re infertile, in other roles, including Aunts, deployed as the regime’s sinister eyes and ears.

The book left it moot whether its narrator, a Handmaid called Offred, ruthlessly separated from her young daughter, manages to escape. Surprisingly, Atwood’s baggier, arguably more ambitious, sequel doesn’t pick up Offred’s story, instead focusing on three new narrators whose tales fill in a few of the blanks left by the original novel about the rise – and fall – of Gilead’s uber-patriarchal republic.

Agnes - Commander - Daughter - Cusp - Puberty

Agnes is a well-to-do Commander’s daughter on the cusp of puberty, an arranged marriage looming. Daisy lives in Canada, defying the wishes of her mysteriously anxious parents to attend an anti-Gilead protest march in Toronto.

Then there’s Lydia, Gilead’s highest-ranking Aunt, scheming to bring down the regime from inside in a plot that will unite Agnes and Daisy by revealing to them their hidden origins.

Thanks - Part - Television - Serial - Channel

Thanks in part to the television serial it inspired, shown here on Channel 4, The Handmaid’s Tale continues to attract new readers.

And it still stands up more than 30 years on – not just because it...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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