By Scott Simon
Morning Edition Sunday / NPR (9/8/19)
Margaret Atwood has written a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale — that sentence alone will move millions of readers to buy the book ASAP.
The final act of that book, published in 1985, saw its unnamed heroine Offred (at least, that wasn’t her real name), step off the pages and into the unknown.
The new book is The Testaments, and it returns us, 15 years later, to the fictional totalitarian theocracy of Gilead, with its Handmaids, Marthas, Wives, Commanders and Aunts.
Atwood says it just seemed like the time for a sequel. “People had been asking me to write a sequel for a long time, and I always said no, because I thought they meant the continuation of the story of Offred which I couldn’t do,” she says. “But then I thought, what if somebody else were telling the story? And what if it were 15 or 16 years later? And it was also time, because for a while we thought we were moving away from The Handmaid’s Tale. And then we turned around and started going back toward it, ominously close in many parts of the world. And I felt it was possibly time to revisit the question of, how do regimes like Gilead end? Because we know from The Handmaid’s Tale that it did end.” …