a pregnant woman

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Book cover for THE TESTAMENTS by Margaret Atwood

THE TESTAMENTS, published in 2019, is a dystopian fiction novel by Margaret Atwood. It’s the followup to THE HANDMAIDS TALE.

THE TESTAMENTS won the 2019 Booker Prize (shared with OTHER by Bernardine Evaristo).

“The poor girl,” Zilla said. “To go through all of that for nothing.”


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: Aunt Lydia.  Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.


The Testaments is used as an example in the following posts. Check them out!

DialogueLearn how to write dialogue with these 6 tips and tricks.
Women in FictionLearn how to write fully developed female characters by avoiding common (and harmful) tropes.


I loved the Handmaids Tale book. I loved season one of the TV show. I liked season two. I didn’t finish season three. 

By the time THE TESTAMENTS was released, I was hesitant to pick it up. Then it won a Booker prize and I decided to go for it.

I wish I hadn’t. The book felt gimmicky to me.

For example, the book is told from three different points of view and none of them are properly named immediately.

This is a strategy that worked beautifully in the Handmaid’s Tale (Offred was never actually named in the book). But, in my opinion, it didn’t add any value here.

You find out who the Aunt is after a few of her chapters (truthfully, if you read the Synopsis you’ll already know). Again, there’s no need for this. There is no value in keeping her identity a mystery at the beginning.

And don’t even get me started on “Baby Nicole.” Not. A. Surprise.

I don’t want to give away any “spoilers,” so I’ll leave you with my recommendation: Skip THE TESTAMENTS.

But don’t just take my word for it. What do others think?

What Atwood has produced, then, is a work that is sure to change nobody’s mind: it will delight her fans and annoy her detractors.

Quill & Quire

Once again, Atwood has created a brilliant world that is both real and imagined, simultaneously foreign and familiar.

The Nerd Daily

If you’re a fan of dystopian feminist literature that also provides commentary on our political era, there is no better bet than this book.

She’s Full of Lit

As a companion to the TV show, this novel is fantastic, as a follow up to The Handmaid’s Tale, it just doesn’t give enough.

Ruth Valente
a typewriter

Writing Practice

Check out these writing exercises and prompts inspired by THE TESTAMENTS.

Prompt: The Opening Paragraph(s)

This is the opening paragraph of the novel. Ignore everything you know about the story and use it as a writing prompt.

Your Task: Using as much detail as possible, write another 300+ words.

Chapter 1

Only dead people are allowed to have statues, but I have been given one while still alive. Already I am petrified.

Exercise: Mix & Match

This exercise is all about being creative. We’re going to merge a setting of THE TESTAMENTS with a character from LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD.

Your Task: Write a scene where one of the RED characters acts like one of the character types from THE TESTAMENTS (handmaid, martha, commander, guardian, wife, refugee, etc).

Need Help?

  • The wolf is a guardian type – good? Bad? Your choice!
  • Red is a handmaid, something happened to her walking partner and she’s stopped on her way home.
  • The grandmother is a refugee.
two old-fashioned chairs and a table


First Published
September 10, 2019
Print Length
(according to amazon)
381 pages
File Size
(according to amazon)
2,085 KB
PublisherNan A. Talese
Goodreads Rating
(As of Nov 2019)
Goodreads rating for the TESTAMENTS 4.23 out of 5
Amazon Rating
(As of Dec 2019)
Amazon Rating for THE TESTAMENTS: 4.5 out of 5
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Pin This: Book Review & Analysis of THE TESTAMENTS

Have you read THE TESTAMENTS?

If so, what did you think? If not, will you?
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PS. share your exercises in the comments below. I’d love to see them.


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