First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?
Here they are, the first lines of the mystery book I’m presenting today:
Only dead people are allowed to have statues, but I have been given one while still alive. Already I am petrified.
This statue was a small token of appreciation for my many contributions, said the citation,which was readout by Aunt Vidala. She’d been assigned the task by our superiors,and was far from appreciative. I thanked her with as much modesty as I could summon, then pulled the rope that released the cloth drape shrouding me; it billowed to the ground,andthere I stood. We don’t do cheering here at Ardua Hall, but there was some discreet clapping. I inclined my head in a nod.
My statue is larger than life,asstues tend to be, and shows me asyounger, slimmer, andin better shapethan I’ve been for some time. Iam standing straight, shoulders back, my lips are curved into a firm but benevolent smile. My eyes are fixed on some cosmic point of reference understood to representmy idealism, my unflinching commitment to duty, my determination to move forward despite all obstacles. Not that anything in the sky would be visible to my statue, placed as itis in a morosecluster of trees and shrubs beside the footpath runningin front of Ardua Hall. We Aunts must not be too presumptious, even in stone.
Do you recognise the book or the writing style?
There was a lot of hype around this book when it was first published two years ago, thirty years after it’s world famous prequel.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within.
At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results. Two have grown up on opposite sides of the border: one in Gilead as the privileged daughter of an important Commander, and one in Canada, where she marches in anti-Gilead protests and watches news of its horrors on TV. The testimonies of these two young women, part of the first generation to come of age in the new order, are braided with a third voice: that of one of the regime’s enforcers, a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets. Long-buried secrets are what finally bring these three together, forcing each of them to come to terms with who she is and how far she will go for what she believes. As Atwood unfolds the stories of the women of The Testaments, she opens up our view of the innermost workings of Gilead in a triumphant blend of riveting suspense, blazing wit, and virtuosic world-building.
“Dear Readers: 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.” –Margaret Atwood