Since a number of readers got The Testaments a week before its major release, thanks to some kind of error from Amazon that sent the book to about 800 people early, readers who can’t get the book early are curious about spoilers. What’s the book about? Does it match or exceed expectations? Here’s a look at some spoilers from readers who got the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale early, along with details that we’ve gleaned from reviews and other announcements. If you want to order the book, you can get it from Amazon here.
This article has MAJOR spoilers for The Testaments, including plot twists. So only read on if you’re OK being spoiled.
The book has 415 pages with 27 chapters and an epilogue at the end. We get to see the points of view of three main characters.
Margaret Atwood shared that the book is inspired by questions from readers about Gilead and “the world we’ve been living in.” This was shared in her announcement of the “Margaret Atwood Live in Cinemas” event. The event is happening on Tuesday, September 10 – the day of the book’s official release.
In a review by NPR, we learned that men are just vague figures in the book and aren’t represented prominently. Instead, the three main characters that we follow are Agnes (a girl who rejects marriage from a young age even though she lives in Gilead), Daisy (a Canadian girl who hates Gilead), and Aunt Lydia. Yes, Aunt Lydia has a prominent role in the sequel. But she’s not one dimensional. She’s a believer who is very crafty.
A main theme of the book, NPR notes, is that women can hurt each other just as much as men can hurt women.
But the bigger spoilers were revealed by readers on Reddit.
So HUGE spoilers are coming. You’ve been warned!
First, u/thewolfwalker shared that Agnes and Daisy are both June’s daughters. Baby Nichole doesn’t know about her Gilead parents until her adopted Canadian parents are killed. (As far as we know, that is NOT Luke.) So she’s sent back to Gilead to meet with Aunt Lydia and learn about her heritage. And apparently Aunt Lydia is somehow involved in the MayDay rebellion group. What?!
We also learn how Aunts came to be originally and the way they train new Aunts, coffeehater shared. “We are introduced to a new kind of Aunt called the pearl girls who wear silver dresses and fake pearl necklaces. They do mission trips to other countries to bring back new women for Gilead.” (That’s creepy.)
Hannah (aka Agnes) begs to be an Aunt so she can escape marriage. She’s a true believer, but later makes a discovery that causes her to question the religion of Gilead. Ultimately, Hannah and Nichole will be reunited and learn that they’re sisters.
If you’re wondering if the Waterfords are ever mentioned in the sequel: they’re not.
Moira and Emily are both not mentioned in the book either, thewolfwalker says, but Hannah and Luke are ultimately reunited. So when we hear that Nichole’s adopted parents were killed, it’s safe to assume this doesn’t mean Luke. (In the show, June’s baby made it to Luke, but this was NOT a plot in the books.)
Oh, and we don’t learn much about Nick in the book, but he is mentioned a few times, readers say. It seems that he’s survived and perhaps even escaped Gilead, but not much more about his exploits are known beyond that.
You can pre-order The Testaments on Amazon at this link if you haven’t ordered the book already.
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