'The Handmaid's Tale' Sequel: 'The Testaments'
Margaret Atwood had written a sequel to the popular The Handmaid's Tale. That's good news and more good news is that Hulu bought the rights to adapt the sequel into an award-winning film just as Atwood's original 1985 book was turned into a successful series.
The streaming service was so sure that Atwood's new book will be as popular as the original that it bought the rights to the book even before the book was released on September 10, 2019.
'The Handmaid's Tale'
The Handmaid’s Tale is based on Margaret Atwood’s 311-page novel about a future of the United States. At the beginning of the story, June was married and had a daughter. While attempting to flee Gilead with her husband and daughter, she was captured and forced to become a handmaid because of the adultery she and her husband committed because he was married to someone when they first began a relationship.
June's daughter was taken and given to an upper-class family to raise. Her husband escaped into Canada. The main focus over three seasons has around June's attempts to be reunited with her husband and daughter.
While the main plot of The Handmaid's Tale is centered only around June in the original series, the plot of The Testaments is centered around three narrators who are connected in ways they don't realize. June herself does not appear in the sequel, but her two children do. One is a young adult and the other is a teenager.
One narrator is Agnes who lives in Gilead. She is really Hannah, the daughter June had with Luke before she and her child were held captive in Gilead. Agnes is being groomed to become a commander's wife even though she doesn't want to marry a commander because she has heard and seen brides of commanders die young.
Another narrator is June's other daughter Daisy who is really Nicole, the 16-year-old child June conceived with Nick and thought to be Commander Waterford and Serena Joy's. Daisy was sent away to be safe in Canada. She is horrified when she finds out how the women are abused in Gilead. Agnes and Daisy are Offred's children, but they do not know each other. Neither does June know the sisters have connected.
The third and most fascinating narrator is a much older Aunt Lydia, still played by Ann Dowd, that fans met and loved to hate in the original book and series. She is the cruel leader in charge of the handmaids whom she insists she loves and what she does is for their benefit. Atwood recasts Aunt Lydia as the one who protects the women and eventually uses all she has learned to bring about Gilead’s destruction before her death.
Another group of women is introduced in the sequel. Young women who don't fit into the other categories of Gilead are allowed to join the Aunts and serve as Pearl Girls. They are missionaries who also act as Aunt Lydia's spies and recruiters.
The plot in The Testaments is filled with details of how terrible things still are in Gilead. The book starts out slowly, but when the story picks up, readers will see how the young characters are being prepared to participate in Lydia’s schemes.
'The Handmaid's Tale' and 'The Testaments'
The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments will come to an end on the pages of the book and on the episodes of the series. In an interview with Atwood on The View, she indicated that while her book will end, the events still go on in places in the country and even in our own state. She convinced her listened that "I didn't make this stuff up." She added that the events are very real.
Reviewers say the sequel is a far more empowering story than the original. Perhaps it is because it is about the story of three women working together instead of just one narrator. The team's mission is to make a difference for themselves and the world.
The Handmaid's Tale
Release Date of Book
Septemben 10, 2019
Release Date of Movie
April 26, 2017
Not Filmed Yet
One: Offred (June)
Three (Agnes, Daisy, Aunt Lydia)
Three Seasons So Far
Not Filmed Yet
Hulu Bought the Rights
The Handmaid's Tale is going into its fourth season when it returns in the spring or summer of 2020 on Hulu.
Some fans of the series have decided to read the new book while waiting for the original series to return and the sequel to be released. Readers will be able to get a general idea of how Atwood's story ends.