PositiveTLSThis is not a book that has been designed to please. Its pace is deliberately slow, and character is sometimes overwhelmed by a weight of significance that verges on the allegorical ... Those who are willing to grant the imaginative patience that this novel requires, however, will find themselves rewarded.
PositiveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)Though The Testaments is primarily a political novel, ideological commitment is not its only characteristic. It is also a thriller, with a fast-paced plot featuring many entangled concealments and dramatic confrontations ... Of course the women write with a chiselled articulacy that could hardly be an authentic reflection of their circumstances: the blunt and shapely sentences and sly observations are all Atwood. But the fact that there is only ever one voice in this novel is not necessarily a weakness. Atwood’s writing is at its incisive best throughout this novel ... the cinematic feel of The Testaments, with its emphasis on a pivotal mystery (who is the mole in Gilead who is helping the Mayday resistance movement?), a gripping plot and a dramatic denouement, does seem to owe something to the tone of the Hulu series ... this remains a very personal novel. Atwood is not simply responding to our current anxieties, though she is clearly aware of what is on the collective mind... Her book is written to entertain, for that is a novelist’s business; but it is also her own testament, and a renewal of the warning of The Handmaid’s Tale.
PositiveThe GuardianThe opening story, When the Door Closed, It Was Dark, confronts the reader with an insistent physicality, shadowed with violence. An inexperienced girl works as an au pair, homesick and evidently disliked by her employers. She is looking after a baby whose mother has disappeared, as mothers often do in these stories ... The story ends with a painful jolt, but the shock is not unexpected, nor is it graphically described. The inevitability of disaster is conveyed by oblique suggestion ... Moore\'s taut stories construct, detail by careful detail, the prisons in which her characters will be destroyed.
MixedThe GuardianThough the political context is urgent (‘We have surrendered thought to ideology’), it is not the point of what she is attempting. Her studies represent a call to seriousness, as Christians used to understand that term – not as an unsmiling severity, but a steady determination to look beyond our immediate worldly concerns. Among the most affecting essays in this book is a disquisition, or perhaps sermon, on the nature of hope, considered (alongside faith and love) as one of the three ‘theological virtues’...The argument is sophisticated and persuasive. But the exhortations of sermons are alien to modern literary sensibilities. Her religious essays are removed from the provocative strangeness of her novels.
RaveThe GuardianKing’s vivid biography reveals the interplay between remembering and inventing in her work ... King, who worked as Bainbridge’s assistant throughout the last 23 years of her life, weaves a gripping narrative from the ups and downs of her entanglements with men ... Among the thought-provoking connections to emerge from this rewarding biography is the association between Bainbridge’s self?dramatisation and the steady discipline of her creativity.