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  • Published: 1 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9781784708214
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $22.99

The Testaments


In this electrifying sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood answers the question that has tantalised readers for decades: What happened to Offred?


In this electrifying sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood answers the question that has tantalised readers for decades: What happened to Offred?

'The Testaments is Atwood at her best . . . To read this book is to feel the world turning' Anne Enright

The Republic of Gilead is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, two girls with radically different experiences of the regime come face to face with the legendary, ruthless Aunt Lydia. But how far will each go for what she believes?

Now with additional material: book club discussion points and an interview with Margaret Atwood about the real-life events that inspired The Testaments and The Handmaid's Tale.


'Everything The Handmaid's Tale fans wanted and more. Prepare to hold your breath throughout, and to cry real tears at the end' Stylist

'Atwood challenges us constantly and poses the question that lies like a pearl inside the shell of this frighteningly readable novel, "Before you sit in judgement, how would you behave in Gilead?''' Sunday Telegraph

'She manages to write about the darkest and most terrifying parts of human psychology in a way that is still deeply funny and full of dark strange hope' Naomi Alderman, author of The Power

  • Published: 1 September 2020
  • ISBN: 9781784708214
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her novels include Cat's Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin and the MaddAddam trilogy. Her 1985 classic, The Handmaid's Tale, went back into the bestseller charts with the election of Donald Trump, when the Handmaids became a symbol of resistance against the disempowerment of women, and with the 2017 release of the award-winning Channel 4 TV series. Its sequel, The Testaments, was published in 2019 and was a global number one bestseller and won the Booker Prize.

Atwood has won numerous awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2019 she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

Also by Margaret Atwood

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Praise for The Testaments

But the biggest name, with the year’s biggest book, is Margaret Atwood: her Handmaid’s Tale sequel The Testaments


One of the year’s big novels will undoubtedly be Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments

The Times

For my money, the single most exciting publishing event of the year


One of the most eagerly awaited books of the year

Daily Express

We'll be poring over The Handmaid's Tale for the 100th time in readiness

Good Housekeeping

It will be one of the literary events of the year


Margaret Atwood has just done her own thing and now she is one of those authors who is helping to change the culture. I love her for her politics. When The Handmaid's Tale was published in 1985, it just seemed that that kind of theocracy and patriarchy she was depicting couldn't happen, the world was progressing, but look where we are

Jeanette Winterson, Sunday Times

Terrifying and exhilarating

Peter Florence, Booker Prize judge, Guardian

A savage and beautiful novel, and it speaks to us today, all around the world, with particular conviction and power

Peter Florence, Booker Prize judge, Guardian

The Testaments take us to a subtly altered Gilead and, in many ways, a more hopeful one... a rallying cry for activism that argues for the connectedness of societies and their peoples... Atwood's task in returning to the world of her best-known work was a big one, but the result is a success

Alex Clark, Guardian

A confluence of political and cultural forces has made The Testaments as vital as a baby in Gilead

Ron Charles, Washington Post

The oppressed feminist shriek of the first novel gets its more optimistic echo in The Testaments...has the dramatic thrust and power to scorch the memory

Serena Davies, Daily Telegraph

A mix of high and low, literary powerhouse and pop-culture icon, filled with homespun wisdom and razor-sharp observation

Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star

The book may surprise readers who wondered, when the sequel was announced, whether Atwood was making a mistake in returning to her earlier work. She has said that The Testaments was inspired by readers’ questions about the inner workings of Gilead, and also by "the world we’ve been living in." But it seems to have another aim as well: to help us see more clearly the kinds of complicity required for constructing a world like the one she had already imagined, and the world we fear our own might become

Jia Tolentino, New Yorker

A work of brilliant and searing defiance

MJ Hyland

While unflinching in depicting horror and showing how complicity enables the collapse of compassion, The Testaments is also a clarion call to hope, resistance and activism... a formidable achievement that will doubtless be read in decades to come

Anita Sethi, i news

With surgical clarity, Atwood documents how the stripping of fundamental freedoms, the weight of systemic oppression, pushes individuals to extremes... The pacing is flawless. The prose is lean, mean, and charged

David Canfield, Entertainment Weekly

Atwood’s prose is as powerful as ever, tense and spare... I finished in six hours flat

Laura Freeman, BBC.com

The very act of writing or recording one’s experiences, Atwood argues, is "an act of hope."... in testifying to what they have witnessed, Offred, Nicole, Agnes and, yes, Lydia are leaving behind accounts that will challenge official Gileadean narratives, and in doing so, they are standing up to the regime’s determination to silence women by telling their own stories in their own voices

Michiko Katutani, New York Times

I gobbled it down... Atwood has an incredible intellectual nimbleness that challenges us constantly and poses the question that lies like a pearl inside the shell of this frighteningly readable novel, "Before you sit in judgement, how would you behave in Gilead?"

Allison Pearson, Sunday Telegraph

Every one of her books makes you question the order of things... She is one of the greatest writers of the past century

Lorraine Candy, Sunday Times

It is an addictively readable, fastpaced adventure... the rhyme of reality with fiction is loud and devastatingly clear... In The Testaments, Atwood changes the emphasis of the plot, to strike a note of optimism – a hopeful reminder that resistance is possible and such regimes do eventually always fall

Holly Williams, Independent

It’s a very different novel from The Handmaid’s Tale, charged with the optimism of change rather than drenched in nightmarish sweat... terrific

Claire Allfree, Metro

Like all good dystopian writers, she presents us with a cracked mirror in which we are asked to see distorted images of ourselves

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Times

The Testaments is Atwood at her best, in its mixture of generosity, insight and control. The prose is adroit, direct, beautifully turned. All over the reading world, the history books are being opened to the next blank page and Atwood’s name is written at the top of it. To read this book is to feel the world turning

Anne Enright, Guardian

Finding hope in a hopeless place, this is everything The Handmaid’s Tale fans wanted and more. Prepare to hold your breath throughout, and to cry real tears at the end. My book of the year

Kayleigh Dray, Stylist

Taut and gratifying… At the heart of the novel is a consideration of the power of narrative itself – of who gets to speak and listen, of the ability for information to limit, control or expand a person’s world… ultimately the truth retains the power to destroy

Donna Lu, New Scientist

The Testaments is all the better for choosing other, quieter forms of resistance for women under Gilead’s rule… The sequel is able to buoy you as a reader in a way The Handmaid’s Tale had no interest in doing, but sit with it and it’s still slippery and at times satisfyingly unsatisfying. This is an intriguing book from a woman who knows she can do bleak any day of the week

Sophie Charara, Wired

Gripping and full of incident, a deft balance of horror and wit… As ever, Atwood cuts to the truth about women and power

Johanna Thomas-Corr, Evening Standard, *Book of the Week*

Terrifying, rage-inducing and utterly gripping

Eastern Daily Press

The Testaments calls for thought and reflection… ideological commitment is not its only characteristic. It is also a thriller, with a fast-paced plot featuring many entangled concealments and dramatic confrontations… Atwood’s writing is at its incisive best... Atwood is not simply responding to our current anxieties… it is also her own testament, and a renewal of the warning of The Handmaid’s Tale

Dinah Birch, Times Literary Supplement

The interaction between these three women is deftly drawn. The enemy never feels other than overwhelmingly malign, yet perversely human and fallible

Morag MacInnes, Tablet, *Novel of the Week*

A truly dazzling literary feat that – blessed be the fruit – entirely lives up to the hope and the hype… Atwood’s particular genius is pushing and pushing at sexist tropes until they reach their grotesque but ultimately logical conclusion

Ceri Radford, Independent

Ingenuity has always delighted Atwood. Here she revels in it... The twists and turns of an extravagantly suspenseful final race for freedom are done with bravura relish

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

An era-defining masterpiece


A cracker: urgent, moving and as tense as any thriller... there's a darkly rebellious humour, ingenious wordplay and, of course, chillingly timely warnings. Atwood is long overdue a Nobel

Hepzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday

Last week's release of Atwood's sequel, The Testaments, made the last Harry Potter launch look like a wet November afternoon...a truly dazzling literary feat that -- blessed be the fruit -- entirely lives up to the hope and the hype... Atwood's particular genius is pushing and pushing at sexist tropes until they reach their grotesque but ultimately logical conclusion

Ceri Radford, Independent

Fluent, imaginative and provocative

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

A plump, pacy, witty and tightly plotted page-turner that transports us straight back to the dark heart of Gilead... Atwood is on top form

Julie Myerson, Observer

It is a measure of Atwood's virtuosity as a writer... that rather than picking up where she left off in 1985 when The Handmaid's Tale was published, she has written such a perfect companion piece

Mary Carr, Mail on Sunday Ireland

The greatest penwoman on the planet

Private Eye

Brace yourself

Lorraine Candy, Sunday Times

If The Handmaid's Tale is disturbing, The Testaments is, in many ways, even more so. Less violent, sure, but Gilead isn't fresh and new at this point. It is a society that has existed for well over a decade, and as such it has become normality for all those who live there...this is, perhaps, far more frightening than the punishments and cruelty we see in the original text

Ann Dowd, Stylist

Margaret Atwood saw it all coming

Lucy Feldman, Time

Taylor Swift would kill for this kind of drama... Now, to read it

Alice Jones, i paper

The Testaments cements Aunt Lydia as one of the most fascinatingly monstrous anti-heroes in fiction

Abigail Chandler, SciFiNow

Atwood has conjured a compelling sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale that is tautly plotted in spare, economical prose… In The Testaments, Atwood succeeds in regaining control of Gilead through words

Ruth Scurr, Spectator

An incredible follow-up

Jade Craddock, the Sun, *Pick of the Week*

Lydia's fascinating tale serves almost as a prequel, while the girls' stirring battle is peppered with pithy wit. Praise be

Deirdre O'Brien, Sunday Mirror

Atwood is our high sorceress, a very grownup one, with a truly unnerving knack for auspicious timing... Like Kafka and Orwell, Atwood has become part of the public discourse

Lisa Allardice, Guardian

Amid the concern... about the imperilled state of liberal democracy on both sides of the Atlantic, the publication of The Testaments could hardly be better timed... Atwood's dark vision of modern totalitarianism, fuelled by unbridled capitalism, ecological meltdown, collapsing birth rates, and rising religious extremism no longer looks darkly speculative, but alarmingly familiar

Rebecca Abrams, Financial Times

A hopeful tale. It reassures us that we are right to fear our enemies and right to resist them, and that totalitarianism can be seen off... The heroines in The Testaments are marvellously resourceful... It is massively satisfying to find this kind of heightened reality in fiction

Natasha Walter, Guardian

At its heart, this gripping novel is a rallying call for action... In Atwood's world, resistance is never futile

Mernie Gilmore, Daily Express

After Donald Trump's election, Ms Atwood came to be seen by some as a soothsayer... If The Handmaid's Tale was a warning, The Testaments has a more positive message... Ms Atwood says that it reflects a sense of hopefulness on her part

The Economist

The literary release of the year... The Testaments is ultimately a hopeful novel, filled with female resistance against oppression

Polly Dunbar, Grazia

The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments can seem like dark tales for dark times. But Atwood argues that they are not. "Writing is always an act of hope," she says, "because it assumes a reader. It assumes a reader in the future"... If what we need right now is a great big bundle of hope – and we do – I for one feel extremely reassured that Margaret Atwood is on hand to provide it.

Erica Wagner, New Statesman

Tuesday was not merely Tuesday but Testaments Day, and the Capital Testaments Town

Hannah Betts, Daily Telegraph

Atwood mania is entirely merited. Not only is there no greater living writer, "Peggy Nature" as friends refer to her eco-activism, is our beloved sage. Her novels have engaged with myth, identity, the sisterhood, and our apocalyptic ecological crisis. Yet nothing has taken flight like her patriarchal dystopia, and nowhere more so than among women

Hannah Betts, Daily Telegraph

The biggest publishing event of the year

Marta Bausells, ELLE

A terrifyingly stark and prescient read


The biggest publishing event of the year

Good Housekeeping

Believe the reviews, it is remarkable

Lindsay Woods, Irish Examiner

For those waiting to find out what happened next, The Testaments is a fantastic conclusion to the story

Sarah Bates, Socialist Worker

The Testaments is that elusive dream of a book -- an erudite, accessible, highly readable adventure, that brims with ideas but never lets them get in the way of the story

Cathy Rentzenbrink, Prospect

It delivers superbly. The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance . . . providing its readers first with a road map and secondly with hope

Sarah Crown, Literary Review

The transgressive, deliciously dangerous mind of Margaret Atwood


How transgressive, deliciously dangerous, even outrageous, she can and needs to be... And the four hundred and fourteen pages of The Testaments gave Atwood plenty of room for just that


A feast

Josie Long, Guardian

‘Reminds us of the vital connection between words and power and how important it is to validate women’s words in particular

Susan Watkins, Morning Star

The Testaments combines gripping entertainment with a complex sense of humanity

Sarah Ditum, Lancet

Gripping, pacy and beautifully written

Justine Jordan, Guardian

Beautiful in its depth... It is in some ways the continuation and in some sense a response to the extraordinarily powerful world of Gilead she created in The Handmaid's Tale 30-odd years ago. There is a need now to look at what complicity, resilience and resistance might look like

Peter Florence, Chair of Booker Judges, The Times

Compelling, poignant and controlled, Atwood's latest work will have any reader gripped

Harper's Bazaar

Atwood's voice has become a rallying cry against climate change and threats to equality


The hoopla around the launch of Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is more reminiscent of the unveiling of an iPhone or something Pokemon related than that of a mere book

Johanna Thomas-Corr, Observer

The Testaments has come at the right moment for her as well as us because she's now a real sage

Jeanette Winterson, Observer

She's always before her time. Each novel is about something people become incredibly interested in half an hour later... There is this tradition of women's writing that uses irony and lightness of touch to deliver monstrous concepts and beliefs. It's that ironic voice that has helped her seamlessly move from one generation of reader to the next. That is the test of a great writer

Carmen Callil, Observer

Thrilling and blistering

Daily Telegraph

Atwood cracks open the claustrophobic world of Gilead and lets in some much-needed light and hope. Spare, tense and exciting


While The Handmaid's Tale explored how totalitarian regimes come to power, The Testaments delves into how they begin to fracture... Atwood is at the top of her game

#1 Book of the Year, Amazon.com

The must-read novel of the year -- a perfect gift for bookworms and fans of the TV series

Sunday Telegraph

Atwood’s musings on power and the patterns of history [is] as incisive as ever

Justine Jordon, Guardian, *Books of the Year*

Undeniably page-turning stuff

Robbie Millen and James Marriot, The Times, *Books of the Year*

A publishing sensation

Woman & Home

The perfect escapist pleasure

Hallie Rubenhold, winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize 2019, Guardian

Page-turning stuff

The Times

Canada's visionary


A delicious page-turner

New Scientist

A gripping novel with a satisfying conclusion

Charlotte Heathcote, Daily Mirror

The Testamnets is a cracking sequel to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and a timely warning about the lengths to which a patriarchal culture will go to control female sexuality

Alison Flood, Sunday Telegraph

A superb and suspenseful expose of misogyny and the moral ambiguity at the heart of a fanatical regime

Martin Chilton, Olivia Petter and Ceri Radford, Independent, *Books of the Decade*

[A] rare combination of a rollicking thriller with major political nous told one of our greatest living writers. Essential

Den of Geek, *Books of the Year*

The Testaments… lived up to the hype

Anne Carter, Daily Express, *Books of the Year*

No one needs another recommendation for The Testaments and still I have to say how thrilling it is when a book manages to exceed all expectations. How did she manage to make darkness feel so effortless? How did she think to inject humour where no humour should exist? Because she’s Margaret Atwood, and she can do anything

Ann Patchett

Superbly written and masterfully constructs the regime of Gilead more than its predecessor was able to

Will Evans, Exepose

The extraordinary Margaret Atwood... she's fabulous'

Hillary Clinton, Stylist

[A] compelling story

Jane Shilling, Daily Mail

Atwood's sequel shines with all the acuity and brilliance of the original, whilst continuing the story with flair and modern insight

Alice Manning, Nouse

There is no language I could use to express the emotion and beauty behind Margaret Atwood's words. Her work takes you on a journey of emotion - whether you are ready to fight, be kind, be vulnerable, stay strong or simply be, she takes you there

Elisabeth Moss

Thrilling, a meditation on courage which asks us to consider what our own response might be were we forced to choose between meek complicity and rebellion at risk of death

Madeleine Davies, Church Times

She's taken our times and made us wise to them

Ali Smith

Inspiring and deeply disturbing

Nicola Sturgeon

Discover more

The Testaments book club notes

A riveting pick for your book club.

Margaret Atwood Q&A

Margaret Atwood discusses her return to Gilead.

Gilead games

From the pages of Margaret Atwood's The Testaments, a chilling children's game from beneath the shadow of the Wall.

Margaret Atwood Reads From The Testaments

Margaret Atwood was recorded in Waterstones Piccadilly reading from her new novel, The Testaments, before she rang a bell to commence sales. Learn more: https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-testaments-9781784742324

On design: The Testaments

Suzanne Dean, Creative Director at Vintage, reveals how she went about working on the top secret brief for one of the world’s most anticipated books, The Testaments.

Announcing the 2019 Booker Longlist

Winners to be announced Monday 14 October.

Margaret Atwood writing Handmaid’s Tale sequel

The Testaments is to be published September 2019.