These are exciting times for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale. When the book was originally published in 1985, it instantly became seminal feminist reading, but it was another 35 years before audiences were gripped by the 2017 TV adaptation starring the likes of Elizabeth Moss and Ann Dowd. This visceral retelling allowed Atwood’s story to spread to modern audiences, who have lapped it up greedily, desperate to know more as every season comes to an end.
And now, 60 years into her career, Atwood is about to release potentially her most anticipated work yet in The Testaments, which has been described as the “thrilling conclusion” to Offred’s tale. No wonder, then, that a TV adaptation of the tome is already in the works.
The plot of The Testaments is being kept under lock and key. All we know is that it will pick up 15 years after the final scene of The Handmaid’s Tale, which saw Offred being bundled into a black van, unsure as to whether or not she was being whisked to safety by the Mayday resistance, or driven to torture, imprisonment or execution by the powers of Gilead.
The sequel has been told from the perspective of three women living in Gilead, which still holds its grip on the former America but looks as though it could be starting to crumble. Two know nothing but the Gilead, having been born since the Republic took over, while the third uses secrets as a currency to survive.
Of her new book, Atwood says: “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.”
As far as the TV series goes, we know even less. Time reports that showrunner of The Handmaid’s Tale Bruce Miller “is involved in discussions about how to best approach the new material”.
There is a possibility that it will simply become part of the existing series, contributing to the material for more episodes, or Miller believes there is also a chance it could be developed into a completely new work.
So far we’ve had clues on which characters will appear in the show, but Atwood has said that she’s working with producers on a multitude of ways they can develop the character of Offred in later life. Of course, once The Testaments is available to buy from 10 September, we’ll have a much better idea of what’s in store for the show when it eventually comes to fruition.