the handmaid's tale sequel

Praise be: The Handmaid’s Tale is getting a sequel.

More than 30 years after the publication of her seminal dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood is working on a sequel that will be published in fall of next year. Titled The Testaments, the sequel will be set 15 years after Offred’s final scene in the 1985 novel and will be narrated by three female characters.

Margaret Atwood confirmed yesterday that she is currently writing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale titled The Testaments. In a tweet, she revealed that The Testaments is “set 15 years after Offred’s final scene and is narrated by three female characters. It will be published in Sept 2019.”

The link she posted goes to her Penguin RandomHouse bio page, but offers no more details on the upcoming sequel than Atwood provided. It’s uncertain whether The Testaments will take inspiration from the currently airing Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, or if Atwood will expand the near-future world of Gilead on her own terms.

The second season of the acclaimed Emmy-winning series ventured beyond Atwood’s book with its second season this past summer, closing out its first season with a final scene that echoed the ambiguous ending of the 1985 novel. But thrust into unchartered territory in its second season, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale ended up spinning its wheels more often than not, resorting to soapy plots and misery porn to keep the narrative going for 13 episodes. The season turned the bleak dial up by 11, putting Offred/June (Elisabeth Moss) through more emotional and physical torture than you could expect for a character who has already been forced into servitude to bear children as a “handmaid” by an oppressive, fundamentalist government.

Perhaps Atwood’s upcoming sequel could provide a structure that the Hulu series so clearly needs. But it seems like The Testaments won’t focus on Offred at all, instead offering a more vast glimpse at the world of Gilead through the perspectives of three women 15 years after Offred. But perhaps Hulu could fill in the gaps from Atwood’s 15-year time jump to better expand the world of the TV series. As of now, the world in the Hulu series feels suffocatingly small because of its focus on June — I’d like to see more of Gilead and the world outside.

The Hulu series is due to return for a third season sometime in 2019. The Testaments will be published in September 2019.

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