Maybe I’m one of few people who haven’t watched the recent dramatisation of The Handmaid’s Tale past series one, but it meant I started reading this with no expectations of what may have happened in the years afterwards. I was intrigued to hear that Atwood had placed certain stipulations on those working on the series to ensure that what came in the book was feasible.
The story focuses on the gradual destruction of Gilead and what it represents. How such regimes are destroyed varies, but this time the threat is from within.
The book is told from three different perspectives and I found it really hard initially to tell who was who. Eventually their voices become quite distinct, but their stories merge and are intertwined.
I found the portrayal of Aunt Lydia quite hard to adjust to. This was not the woman seen previously and it made me curious to see how such a change of heart seemed to have come about. The details given suggest this was part of a long-game. It would be nice to think this was part of the initial idea, but it was very difficult to reconcile the two images.
Alongside this we have two younger voices, Agnes and Jade/Nicole. Each has a very different experience of life under this regime, yet both are needed to bring about its destruction. They are inextricably linked, but I found their shifting relationship rather difficult to find credible.
Perhaps some elements of the story were unfeasible. Certainly this book wasn’t perhaps strictly necessary. However, it offers an intriguing insight into some of the reactions to events described earlier.