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I thought the character of Nicole was a bit less believable but then perhaps I've forgotten what being 16 is like.
I was not that surprised by what she did with Aunt Lydia - but it did not make her a hero in my mind. I really liked that Aunt Lydia speaks directly to the reader. Very effective.
I was disappointed the Marthas didn't have more a part in the book. Those mentioned seemed compliant, just doing their jobs.
As I am a fan of the limited television series, I am glad the sequel works okay with that, also. No doubt, Maggie had a hand in that.
I thought that the final words of the book (the gravestone marker for Becka) was very moving. I loved that they remembered her in that way and recognized her sacrifice. I also liked that it hinted at the family being reunited in some way.
What did you think about the hopeful tone? It was certainly different than Handmaid's Tale. In today's political and cultural climate, I wasn't sure that I was actually ready for a hopeful outcome - I suppose Atwood wanted it to be comforting.
When I read Handmaid in the 1980s, I was 30. I felt that it was an interesting premise given the rise of televangelism--Episcopalians at that time were very concerned about the rise of fundamentalism and conservative evangelicals--and some religious backlash against Second Wave feminism. But it didn't strike me very viscerally.
Testaments, which I read at 65, seemed less topical, more psychological. The novel is less a take down of a particular scapegoat (religious authoritarianism and patriarchy), and more broadly of how information ("truth") is power.
I was deeply disturbed and moved by Aunt Lydia's story.
Interesting bits Atwood has offered in the many TV and radio interviews I listened to. Each of them would make interesting discussion points:
--Everything that happens in the two books has happened somewhere in recent history or is happening now. None of the Gileadean horrors is made up.
--Canada and the U.S. share an English Puritan history. The books are meant to nod at the underbelly of that shared Puritan society.
--Canada has often been a refuge for Americans--Tories fled there after the American Revolution, Canada was the end of the line on the Underground Railroad, Canada took in 200,000 Vietnam War draft resistors.
I think Maureen Corrigan's review (link in next message) is more or less how I feel about the sequel.
I was pleased to that the limited series is also holding to the 'rule' that everything that happens in the series has to have happened before.
Before the Tories, the Native Americans fled north through NH into Canada. One only has to listen to Sarah Vowel's The Wordy Shipmates to get a more realistic picture of the hypocrisy of the Puritans (I say "listen" because it is far more entertaining to listen to Vowel's dry delivery).
>3 japaul22: I agree it does give hope. It is certainly not the "awful warning" novel that Handmaid's was in the 1980s. And while I might agree that it is not a page turner in the conventional sense, the story moves along. I read it in two sittings.
Interview with Atwood in the Guardian:
review of The Testaments in the Guardian:
Maureen Corrigan/NPR review of the book: