Sequel for The Handmaid’s Tale?

There was a new audio version of The Handmaid’s Tale released this week, with an extended ending written by Atwood. It’s a special edition on the Audible site, a very good site for audio books. It’s giving rise to rumours that there might be a sequel in the offing. Wishful thinking? Or was that a hint?

There are spoilers in this post regarding the ending of the book and audio version.

I initially read about this in a post here. The author has conglomerated a few other sources including an article in the Guardian, and on from The Loop, a Canadian site. The short of it is that in the current ending, a university professor talks about the downfall of Gilead from a point at least 100 years in the future from the time frame of Theh Handmaid’s Tale (THT) and the discovery of the recorded journal from a woman named Offred which tells her story, the book as it were. The ultimate fate of Offred is not known. The book ends with the professor asking if there are any questions from the audience of the lecture.

The new audio version contains audience questions including one voiced by the author herself in a cameo. These questions/answers provide two clues to a potential sequel, referencing possible new material and documentation that needs further verification before there can be any further information released about Gilead and maybe about Offred as well. The professor tells the audience they hope to be able to present the new material at some point but couldn’t say for sure. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

The Loop have asked Ms. Atwood about the possibility and she said “I am in consultation with the Professor, but he is being very cagey about this,”  “He evidently doesn’t want to make any promises before he has finished authenticating his new discoveries.”

Hmmm. We know that the book has been hitting the best seller lists again after 30 years due to the upcoming series (I reread it myself) and it’s probably a no-brainer that if the series does very well, they’ll want to do a sequel but fans of THT probably wouldn’t accept one written by just any screenwriter. It would have to come from Atwood herself. Maybe she is going to write a sequel, a book perhaps or maybe she’ll be involved in the sequel though we all know books are better! With the way the political climate seems to be running these days, Gilead wouldn’t be such a far off and unbelievable future and there could be plenty of inspiration for a new novel.

Would you like to see a new novel or do you think it would be selling out, cashing in and all that? Even coming from Ms. Atwood, I’d still worry that it might fall down flat. I think it would have to show us Offred’s fate and show Gilead imploding at some point, perhaps the work of the Mayday rebellion has the ultimate successful effect.

Exciting times.

Meanwhile, it’s just a couple of weeks before the series hits television, April 26 on Hulu in the USA and April 30 on Bravo in Canada.

IWD: Favourite Women Authors

Meeting Diana Gabaldon

Today is International Women’s Day, so I’m told. It may be as good a time as any to write a few notes on some of my favourite female authors. Number one on the list is Diana Gabaldon. She’s been on the top of my list since I discovered her very first book in 1990, Outlander. I love her style of writing and her characters and their stories are well researched, well written and thoroughly enjoyable. Her ongoing saga tells the story of Jamie and Claire Fraser and their family.

Minor spoilers if you’ve never read the books are included in this paragraph: Nurse Claire Randall “fell” through the standing stones in a stone circle in Scotland to find herself in the mid 18th century during the Jacobite Uprising where she met Jamie Fraser. They fell in love and married. Claire’s healing abilities served her well but also, on occasion, got her into trouble where women that could heal were sometimes suspected of being witches in that time period. During the series of books (8 so far), Claire returned to the future just before the battle of Cullodden but when she discovered Jamie didn’t die in the battle, found a way to return to him. Her daughter, Briana, also has the ability to travel through the stones as does Briana’s two children. (I’m covering a lot of ground here!)  Over the years, the Frasers end up in pre-Revolution America in West Virginian mountain country but get tangled up in the War of Independence.

There’s so much more detail, of course, with adventures galore, villains, heroes and everything in between. Diana has also written a few spin off books and stories about a secondary character, Lord John Grey. The books are in the process of being made into a television series on the American network Starz. The first two books have been aired so far with season three following book three coming later this year. Some people find Diana’s books have far too much detail in them but fans of the books wallow in every word! The television series pulls out the best of the books and keeps to the storyline very well with some differences that are inevitable due to the logistics of film/visual storytelling. Her website has excerpts from her books including the one she is currently writing and there is news and appearance schedules when applicable.

As you can see from the photo, I’ve met her (two or three times, actually) when her book signing tours have landed in Halifax. She’s very interesting and a real joy to listen to. She’s intelligent and funny and warm. She really seems to appreciate her fans and all the support they’ve given her over the years.

I could go on and on about Ms. Gabaldon but I was meant to write about other favourite authors as well.

I couldn’t talk about female authors without mentioning Canada’s Margaret Atwood. She really has become the First Lady of CanLit over the past forty years. She writes fiction, poetry, short stories and recently, she’s authored a graphic novel, working with the artist to create Angel Catbird. I own the first volume and I think the second one is due out soon. Her books span a variety of types of fiction though many have a sci-fi Dystopian theme. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of her best known books and has been filmed once already. A new series is due out later this year, debuting at the end of April in a 10 episode series on the American network Hulu. The most outrageous thing is that there is no apparently Canadian debut for this series based on a classic Canadian book. Not that I’ve heard , yet. And they wonder why people continue to download illegally or buy proxy VPN services to circumvent the restrictions between countries.

On the positive side, her novel Alias Grace is going to be a mini-series and will air on CBC in Canada in addition to Netflix in the US. Another recent book, The Heart Goes Last, is going to be filmed as well. It seems like the world at large is finally realizing the gem that we always knew we had here in Canada.

Some years ago, I discovered a series of books about witches in the modern world. The author’s name is Debora Geary. She wrote well over a dozen of these charming little books, filled with a community of strong women who were the hearts of their families and friends. Their abilities varied from fire, water, earth and air, with different witches having different strengths. Not just women, but some of the men and boys were also witches with abilities as well. One small boy will prove to be the most powerful of them all and it’s a challenge to raise a little one like that! It really does take a village! The books are only available on Amazon Kindle and this page on her website gives you more details on the series.

Anyway, I was gutted when she gave up writing about witches a few years ago but she’s still writing under the name of Audrey Faye. I haven’t read any of her newer series but a couple of them seem to be more science fiction and fantasy  and I think I would probably like them just as much. Her books are “clean”, that is, no swearing, no sex (though it’s alluded to among the happy couples). If you were concerned, you would have none were you to give them to your teenagers, though I think they’d appeal more to girls than boys but everyone’s different.

That’s pretty much my top three but I enjoy books but quite a few women. In random order: Anita Burgh, Penny Vincenzi, Miriam Toews, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Fiona Walker, Sharon Kay Penman, Alice Hoffman, Hilary Mantel, Emma Donoghue, Susanna Kearsley, Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Frances Itani, Maeve Binchy, Barbara Erskine, and Val McDermid.