Book review: ‘The Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood

By Anne Marie Waters 

13th November 2019

People who criticise the ideology of Islam can usually report that they have lost friends as a result. I certainly have. But there is another loss; the loss of heroes and heroines. It’s not controversial to point out that the vast majority of celebrity and public figures are pro-Islam. They condemn critics as far-right and signal their “I’m not racist” virtue (even though Islam is not a race) at any and every given opportunity. If this is someone whose work you’ve long admired, you’ll be left disappointed and wondering how someone so otherwise talented or intelligent can be so blinkered on this issue.

This is the case for me having read the latest book of one of my previous literary heroines Margaret Atwood. Atwood is the author of the horrifying classic ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. This is, without doubt, one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. It portrays a futuristic era in which the United States has transformed in to an Old Testament theocracy, where science, evidence and reason have been replaced by dogma, and brutality is the norm.

As is to be expected in such a society, women particularly suffer; reduced to property and valued only by their ability to give birth – something entirely controlled by their male masters. It is the subtlety and simplicity of this book that makes it so frightening. Reading it, you believe it, and Atwood takes you right there, right in to the midst of this medieval nightmare scenario.

She has done it again in the sequel entitled ‘The Testaments’, which I have just finished reading. Once again, the horror is laid bare in this brilliantly written novel. But as I read, I had to wonder; does Margaret Atwood realise that what she is describing is not fiction, but fact? She is describing life inside numerous Islamic states to this day.

In both books, Atwood describes how women are forcefully covered, forced in to marriages and killed if they refuse. In her dystopia, a woman’s word is worth less than a man’s, women are stoned to death for being raped, and face constant fear or violence or death for any expression of independence or autonomy. In one example, she refers to a grown woman needing permission from a young boy to carry out a fairly standard task.

Does she realise she is describing life for women in Saudi Arabia, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan? Only she can answer that question, but the sleve of ‘The Testaments’ provides us with one or two clues.

It states:

“Her 1985 classic, The Handmaid’s Tale, went back in to the charts with the election of Donald Trump, when the Handmaids became a symbol of resistance against the disempowerment of women…”

 The implication is quite clear: Donald Trump, and what he stands for, threatens to turn America in to a country resembling what is described above.

If this is the view of Margaret Atwood, she has gotten this spectacularly wrong.

Atwood must realise that the enslavement of women she is describing is nigh-on word-for-word sharia law. It isn’t Donald Trump promoting sharia law in America, it is the very leftist organisations, and “feminists” that are apparently showing resistance to his presidency. It is the Democrats that have gone out of their way to appease and to welcome all things Islamic to America, including sharia law. Forced marriage, child marriage, FGM, are all now realities in the land of the free, thanks not to Donald Trump, but to his opponents.

It is of course Trump who has pointed out the dangers of bowing down to the demands of this highly illiberal creed, and who has called for mass immigration to be brought to an end, because only by stopping mass immigration can America hope to halt the ever growing power of sharia.

It’s an extraordinary reality. The world upside down. So-called feminists protest against Trump at every opportunity, while elevating the genuine and deeply-held misogynistic beliefs of Islam.

I hope that Margaret Atwood understands this, and more importantly, I hope she finds the courage to say so.

Anne Marie Waters

Leader

For Britain

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