When Margaret Atwood announced that she would be publishing a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale late last year, the news was met with widespread excitement. The Testaments will hit shelves on Sept. 10, 2019 — a whopping 34 years after the publication of Handmaid's Tale. Details have been scarce about what the plot of The Testaments would be and what the cover would look like... until now. Bustle's got all the info you need below.
It makes perfect sense that Atwood would have waited until now to revisit The Republic of Gilead. The Handmaid's Tale, which is set in a near-future where women are forced to produce children for the ruling class, has sold over 8 million copies in English. But it has only grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to the award-winning Hulu adaptation that premiered in 2017. And since the election of President Trump, Atwood's Handmaids have become a symbol of women’s rights.
Here's what we know about The Testaments so far: the book will be narrated by three female characters from Gilead, and it is set 15 years after Offred's final scene in The Handmaid's Tale. Readers will know that the book doesn't actually end with Offred's unclear fate, but with an epilogue that takes place in a future where Gilead no longer exists. It seems that Atwood is content to let that epilogue stand for now, as The Testaments will take place somewhere in-between the ending of the narrative of Handmaid's Tale and its epilogue. Importantly, Atwood's sequel is said to be unconnected from the ongoing Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, which has already extended its plot past the parameters of the first book.
But what about the cover? The U.S., U.K., and Canadian editions were revealed by Penguin Random House today, and many fans are already searching for symbolism in the design and color scheme. Check out the U.S. cover below:
Red has long been the symbol of Atwood's Handmaids, the color of the cloaks and dresses all of the women are forced to wear, so the dramatic colors of The Testaments could be significant. Though we won't get any specific answers until the book is released, Atwood has made it clear that the cover design is significant.
In a statement released by Penguin Random House, Atwood says, "It can’t have been easy, but [cover designer Noma Bar] came through with a cover that is fresh and intriguing: within an apparently simple double image, there are hidden figures to be discovered — just as in the book. I hope you like it as much as I do."
Atwood also tells EW, "The cover is simple and elegant, yet with a concealed puzzle. The back is the front, the front is the back."
As for the green? Atwood is mostly staying mum. She wrote in a tweet, "My publishers have locked me in the Naughty Room so I won't be able to Hint."
Sept. might feel like quite a long time to wait for more answers, but fans of the series will be pleased to know the Season 3 of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale will likely premiere sometime in April or May of this year, if it's past season premieres are any indication. Atwood will continue to be involved in the production of the series, so it seems more gut-wrenching drama is yet to come.
Now is the perfect time to re-read The Handmaid's Tale in preparation for all of the secrets about the inner-workings of Gilead that are sure to be revealed through The Testaments come Sept. 10. In the meantime, try not to let the wait grind you down.