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Atwood's The Testaments is second to none

The Week in Review

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments (Chatto & Windus) has jumped the gun to become the most-reviewed book of the weekend, cruising into a four-star-plus rating and earning plaudits such as "terrifically wrought", "profound", "sharp-eyed" and "surprisingly fun". Alex Clark in the Guardian wrote, "Atwood’s task in returning to the world of her best-known work was a big one, but the result is a success that more than justifies her Booker prize shortlisting," and the Daily Telegraph's Serena Davis described The Handmaid's Tale sequel as "a blockbuster of propulsive, almost breathless narrative, stacked with twists and turns worthy of a Gothic novel". Anita Sethi praised it as "a formidable achievement that will doubtless be read in decades to come" in the i.

However, many reviewers agreed The Testaments is a very different book to its predecessor, with Slate's Laura Miller describing it as "fun to read in a way that The Handmaid’s Tale is not" and Holly Williams in the Independent commenting on the original's trailblazing legacy, adding of The Testaments, "It cannot fully live up to all of that, but it can and does satisfy our hunger for more."

Robert Harris' The Second Sleep (Hutchinson) woke up reviewers, with Nick Rennison in the Sunday Times praising it as "a thoroughly absorbing, page-turning narrative", which also "poses challenging questions about the meaning of the past, the idea of progress and the stability of civilisation". The history-bending title was described as "truly surprising" and "fabulous, really" by David Sexton in the Evening Standard, and Alex Preston wrote in the Observer that the title "issues a clarion call to the present, urging us to recognise the value of progress, the importance of woolly concepts like liberalism and the rule of law, and all the other ideals we’ve spent generations fighting for yet seem prepared to sacrifice on the altar of populism".

Peter Gatrell's The Unsettling of Europe (Allen Lane), a study of migration across the continent since 1945, also won praise, with the Literary Review's Caroline Moorhead describing it as "meticulously researched" and "a balanced and valuable overview". In the New Statesman, Rowan Williams wrote, "One of the greatest strengths of the book is Gatrell’s consistent attention to the voices of migrants themselves,"—Jonathan Portes in the Observer agreed, adding that Gatrell's title was "nuanced and sympathetic".

Kiera O'Brien, charts editor, The Bookseller

Margaret Atwood

4.02 out of 5

21 reviews

And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light. When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead. With The Testaments, the wait is over. Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story 15 years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

Robert Harris

4.11 out of 5

10 reviews

The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts - coins, fragments of glass, human bones - which the old parson used to collect.As Fairfax is drawn more deeply into the isolated community, everything he believes - about himself, his faith and the history of his world - is tested to destruction.

Peter Gatrell

3.73 out of 5

9 reviews

Migrants have stood at the heart of modern Europe's experience, whether trying to escape danger, to find a better life or as a result of deliberate policy, whether moving from the countryside to the city, or between countries, or from outside the continent altogether. Peter Gatrell's powerful new book is the first to bring these stories together into one place. He creates a compelling narrative bracketed by two nightmarish periods: the great convulsions following the fall of the Third Reich and the mass attempts in the 2010s by migrants to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.