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  • Published: 10 September 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784742324
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $42.99

The Testaments

The Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale

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


Margaret Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale, is a modern classic. Now she brings the iconic story to a dramatic conclusion in this riveting sequel.
More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

‘Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.' Margaret Atwood

‘The literary event of the year.’ Guardian

‘A savage and beautiful novel, and it speaks to us today, all around the world, with particular conviction and power… The bar is set particularly high for Atwood and she soars over it’ Peter Florence, Booker Prize Chair of Judges, Guardian

  • Pub date: 10 September 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784742324
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $42.99

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 him; and the 2017 release of the award-winning Channel 4 TV series. Sales of the English language edition have now topped 8 million copies worldwide.

Atwood has won numerous awards including the Booker Prize, 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. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

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Praise for The Testaments

“Clearly the Booker Prize judges got their hands on an early copy, and it looks like it'll most certainly will be worth the wait”

UK Press Sydication

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


“A work of brilliant and searing defiance”

MJ Hyland

“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

“The Testaments is a much more accessible book than its brilliant yet forbidding predecessor. At times it races along like a spy thriller written by Charles Dickens, rich in suspense, coincidence and messy humanity… Atwood… has an incredible intellectual nimbleness that challenges us constantly and poses…question[s] that lies like a pearl inside the shell of this frighteningly readable novel”

Allison Pearson, Sunday Telegraph

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

The Times

“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

“For my money, the single most exciting publishing event 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

“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

“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

“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

“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

“One of the most eagerly awaited books of the year”

Daily Express

“With surgical clarity, Atwood documents how the stripping of fundamental freedoms, the weight of systemic oppression, pushes individuals to extremes... Atwood had this book in her? The pacing is flawless. The prose is lean, mean, and charged”

David Canfield, Entertainment Weekly

“The Handmaid’s Tale fans, rejoice”


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

Laura Freeman, BBC.com

“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... The Testaments is a formidable achievement that will doubtless be read in decades to come”

Anita Sethi, i news

“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”


“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

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

Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star

“An era-defining masterpiece”


“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

“Margaret Atwood saw it all coming”

Lucy Feldman, Time

“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 that more than justifies her Booker prize shortlisting”

Alex Clark, Guardian

“Fluent, imaginative and provocative”

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

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

Ron Charles, Washington Post

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

Claire Allfree, Metro

“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 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

“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

“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

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

Alice Jones, i paper

“Brace yourself”

Lorraine Candy, Sunday Times

“The power of her [Atwood’s] writing is undeniable”

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

“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

“The greatest penwoman on the planet”

Private Eye

“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

“[The Testaments] is 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*

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

Mernie Gilmore, Daily Express

“Gripping and full of incident, a deft balance of horror and wit”

Evening Standard

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


“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

“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

“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

“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

“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 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

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

Sarah Bates, Socialist Worker

“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”


“From her three testaments, Atwood has conjured a compelling sequel to The Handmaid's Tale that is tautly plotted in spare, economical prose”


“The transgressive, deliciously dangerous mind of Margaret Atwood”


“Believe the reviews, it is remarkable”

Lindsay Woods, Irish Examiner

“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

Discover More

Margaret Atwood was recorded in Waterstones Piccadilly reading from her new novel, The Testaments, before she rang a bell to commence sales.
The Testaments is to be published September 2019.
Winners to be announced Monday 14 October.
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.

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