Margaret Atwood announces Handmaid’s Tale sequel “inspired by the world we’ve been living in”

The Testaments will be published worldwide in September 2019, 34 years after Atwood’s modern classic

Elisabeth Moss as June/Offred in The Handmaid's Tale (C4, EH)

Margaret Atwood has announced a sequel to her bestselling dystopic novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which will be “inspired by the world we’ve been living in”.

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The new novel, entitled The Testaments, will be published worldwide in September 2019, 34 years after Atwood’s modern classic.

The Handmaid’s Tale – which has been adapted into a hugely popular drama starring Elisabeth Moss – is the story of one woman’s journey in a dystopian regime called Gilead, where women’s rights are stripped and they are forced to breed children for the upper classes.

Atwood revealed that The Testaments will be inspired not only by Gilead, but also by the real world.

“Dear Readers,” the author wrote, announcing the book on Wednesday. “Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”

The Testaments will be set 15 years after the end of the first novel and narrated by three female characters.

Offred’s final words in The Handmaid’s Tale, as she was loaded into the back of a van, were: “Whether this is my end or a new beginning I have no way of knowing; I have given myself over into the hands of strangers, because it can’t be helped. And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.”

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The Testaments will not be connected to the TV series, which has extended beyond Atwood’s 1985 novel to continue Offred’s personal journey.