The audiobook for Margaret Atwood’s long-awaited new novel, The Testaments will be released to coincide with the book’s publishing date on 10th September. Published over 30 years after Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments will reportedly answer all the questions Atwood has been asked about Gilead, its inner workings and its downfall over the years.
The Testaments picks up about 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, which ended with Offred being bundled into the back of a van and left on that uncertainty. The Testaments however does not follow Offred’s story but pick up with three women including a young woman in Gilead, a Canadian teenager originally from Gilead and a character we all already known, Aunt Lydia who we first meet in the Red Room during Offred’s ‘training’.
The audiobook for The Handmaid’s Tale was this year re-narrated by Elisabeth Moss who plays Offred/June in the Hulu and MGM adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. The audiobook also features several of Moss’ fellow cast members including, Ann Dowd (Aunt Lydia) narrating the Historical Notes.
In an article by TIME magazine the cast for The Testaments audiobook was revealed and Ann Dowd will once again be voicing parts of the book. The Testaments will be narrated by six people including Dowd who will continue her role as Aunt Lydia. Ann Dowd spoke to TIME about narrating Aunt Lydia in The Testaments audiobook. She explained, “I love the way Lydia speaks. I loved the way she spoke in Handmaid’s the novel and I love what’s going on here. I mean that woman, I’m crazy about her and then just to realise, yep she has the smarts, she knows what’s going on, it’s so phenomenal. And then to get beginnings of how Gilead formed and to know what she [Aunt Lydia] did and what her job was.”
The plot of Atwood’s latest novel has been a closely guarded secret so recording the audiobook was no easy feat. Ann Dowd told TIME that when she received the book it was labelled with a fake title and author name and there were strict security measures in place to prevent leaks. “I just had a lot of passwords,” she said. “I couldn’t figure it out. I was like look, I need assistance here.”
Joining Ann Dowd in the cast of narrators of this audiobook are; Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help) as Witness 369A, Mae Whitman (Good Girls) as 369B, and Derek Jacobi (Gladiator) and Tantoo Cardinal (Wind River) reading the respective roles of Professor James Darcy Pieixoto and Professor Maryanne Crescent Moon, the scholars who speak at an annual Gileadean studies conference after the fall of Gilead in the epilogue of The Handmaid’s Tale. The sixth and final voice will be the author, Margaret Atwood herself.
The hardback and audiobook for Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments will be published on 10th September but if you can’t wait until then, here’s a sneak preview in the exclusive first extract from the novel.