Praise Be! ‘The Testaments,’ the Sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ Is Here

By Michiko Kakutani
Cover of Margaret Atwood's sequel to 1985 "The Handmaid's Tale"
The most chilling — and timely — lines in “The Handmaid’s Tale” occur near the beginning of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel. Nothing changes instantaneously, Offred observes: “In a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.” The main story line in “The Testaments” is a kind of spy thriller about a mole inside Gilead, who is working with the Mayday resistance to help bring down the evil empire. It’s a contrived and heavily stage-managed premise — but contrived in a Dickensian sort of way with coincidences that reverberate with philosophical significance. And Atwood’s sheer assurance as a storyteller makes for a fast, immersive narrative that’s as propulsive as it is melodramatic. [More]