Book Review: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

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Margaret Atwood The Testaments

I finally binge-watched The Handmaid’s Tale late this spring. My friends couldn’t believe I hadn’t started it yet but I was hesitant as the COVID lockdown was giving me the moody blues.

The first time I picked up The Handmaid’s Tale was in my grandmother’s bookcase when I was twelve. At twelve, I read the novel with morbid fascination however I didn’t truly understand the significance of what I was reading.

I have read it a few times at different stages of my life since then and every single time, Gilead and its society has simultaneously fascinated and terrified me even more than the last. I attempted to watch the 1990s film and it did not apellate me at all. I was left feeling that I might just have a very creepy imagination. The current series’ atmosphere is as dark and horrific as the novel made me feel as I read it. The actors are absolutely phenomenal as is the setting and the costumes.

I purchased The Testaments as soon as the novel was published but as I said during lockdown, I was moody. Only when we were finally released from lockdown did I begin to binge watch the show and as soon as I finished the last episode, I jus wasn’t ready to let Gilead go.

To further complicate the situation, I read an article online which announced that The Testaments would become a televised series as well. This caused the quintessential question of all readers to come into play: should I watch the show or read the book first?

I am too impatient it seems as it didn’t matter which I should do first. I just had to start reading the novel.

The Testaments’ narrative is told from three distinctly different point of views. One of which is Aunt Lydia (how we always love a complex villain), Agnes a young girl growing up in Gilead and getting ready to marry a Commander and finally Daisy, a young girl growing up in Canada (the land of the free).

The three points of view offer a unique perspective into three different views of Gilead and the corruption inherent in any totalitarian patriarchal regime. The Testaments’ atmosphere is less dark than the original Tale however, similiar themes dominate the novel. Power, gender, guilt and the chronicling of history are some examples.

I highly recommend reading The Testaments. It kept me captivated until I turned the very last page. I am positive that I will read it again in a few months time to capture what I most likely missed on the first read. Atwood’s novels tend to cause one to reflect upon our own perception of events and The Testaments highlight via stating: “Once a story you’ve regarded as true has turned false, you begin suspecting all stories”. I am anticipating the series as it’s always interesting to see if what you have imagined when reading will have a similar portrayal captured on film.

Modern witch. Daily affirmations. Soul journey. Meditation. Anxiety? Bye.

In the past six months, I have been reflecting on my schedule. My needs as a woman, a mother, an employee and a writer. I have a a full time job which limits my time and I have realized that as a writer, free time is my most precious commodity.

I have gone through a bit of a rollercoaster in my personal life and my anxiety has been acting up in waves. Mine ressembles a grumpy sea dragon riding the tide to besiege me with guilt, suffocation and fear. In an effort to ward it off, I have learned to go back to the basics, make myself a schedule and rebalance my life.

I have been told that the key to managing my anxiety is through meditative practices. I simply cannot empty my mind. I studied Buddhism in order to try and gain a deeper understanding as well as attended some guided meditation classes. The idea of emptying my mind in itself appears to give me anxiety.

In making my schedule, I realized that that a spiritual dimension was lacking in my life. Similarly to most teenagers, I discovered the Tarot in late grade school. My girls and I enjoyed pulling each other’s cards and playing Ouija on many a preteen Saturday night.

In the past few years, tarot, crystals and semi-precious stones, aromatherapy and other forms of alternative belief systems have been trending once again.

I have decided that my journey towards meditation will be pulling one card a day and reflecting on the message it captures. I will let my intuition lead the way and let go of the anxiety. Breathe in. Breath out. Balance. My mantra for the upcoming year remains be brave.

Camp Nanowrimo 2021 – “O”

I have been working on a trilogy for a little more than two years now.

Due to mistakes I have made while writing this trilogy, the last instalment has been a bit of a frustrating journey. It is alright though as I will definitely not make the same mistakes twice. I will undoubtedly make many new ones.

For this reason when the time for Camp Nanowrimo rolled around, I decided to enjoy the newfound freedom of Summer with a capital S and the release of COVID restrictions. After two years of being inside, I just wanted to enjoy myself.

I decided to start a new story (temporarily called “O”) which I will post on Wattpad (for the first time ever) on August 1st.

This new story has taken the form of a twisted fairy tale, loosely plotted to allow the bizarre last two years of my (our) life to take on a life of its own.

It is exactly the breath of fresh air I needed. Written in a neighbourhood cafe illuminated by colourful lanterns on Parc Avenue surrounded by all the drama of inner city downtown life & also written all tucked up in bed, with the patio door open to let in the night’s cool breeze, “O” is the perfect summer project.