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Margaret Atwood: The Testaments is finally here, and a third book might be on its way

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Hollie Richardson
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Margaret Atwood launches The Testaments

Praise be: The Handmaid’s Tale sequel, The Testaments, is finally out. Author Margaret Atwood launched her new book in a bold and brilliant way, and she hinted at a third book in a new interview. 

A lot has happened in the 34 years since Margaret Atwood first published The Handmaid’s Tale. In fact, the last few years alone have seen many real life major moments related to the world of Gilead.

Donald Trump – the man who boasted about “grabbing a woman’s pussy’ – was elected President in 2016. Under his presidency, we’ve recently seen women’s reproductive rights being taken away by men, as abortion bans were passed in 12 states this year. And he pretty much refuses to acknowledge the climate crisis

The Emmy-winning TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, starring Elisabeth Moss, has served as a powerful cultural reference for what’s happening around us right now. And the handmaids’ red cloak and white hood has become an iconic symbol of protest for women. 

So, the hype around Atwood’s sequel, The Testaments, has been palpable. It made the Booker Prize long-list before publication and a TV series is already in the works

The novel takes place 15 years after the events of the first book, and looks at three women living in Gilead. Today (10 September), The Testaments is finally out. 

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Atwood launched the book at a sold out Waterstones event in London’s Piccadilly.  The launch was a bold and brilliant move, as women dressed in handmaids’ clothing carried the book with their heads down, before unveiling it in the store. 

Actor Romola Garai then read an extract from The Handmaid’s Tale. You can watch what happened here

The National Theatre, which is holding another event with Atwood tonight, also projected a powerful image of the book cover onto its walls. 

Atwood talked about the need to write The Testaments, telling the BBC: “For years and years people were saying, ‘Will there be a sequel, please write a sequel, tell us what happened’. I always said, ‘I can’t do that,’ because I thought they meant – and they did mean – ‘Could you continue the story of Offred and what happened to her?’. 

“And I couldn’t recreate that voice, it would have been folly to attempt it. But then a couple of things happened. Instead of going away from Gilead as we thought had been happening possibly in the 90s, we started going back towards Gilead in a number of places in the world, but including the United States.”

She also spoke about the possibility of a third Gilead book, adding: “Never say never, but never try to predict what you may or may not write, because if you do predict it and then do something else, you will endlessly have to answer the question: ‘But you said you were going to do that, and then you didn’t… why did you do that?’ I never rule things out completely, although come to think of it I did rule out writing a sequel and not I’ve gone and done it.”

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood is the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood is the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale.

Fans have already been sharing their excitement on Twitter, with some claiming to have taken the day off work to devour the highly-anticipated book.

 If you’re one of the lucky people to have a copy in your hands: enjoy this blessed offering from Atwood. 

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Images: Getty, HBO

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