Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Thanksgiving Special: The Testaments

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I hope you find yourself in the company of people you like today, even if they sometimes make you crazy; I hope you find yourself at a bountiful table!

I hope you enjoy a delicious Pinot Noir with your turkey – or sweet tea, if that’s your pleasure. I hope the marshmallows on your sweet potato casserole are perfectly puffed and browned.

I hope the perfect is not the enemy of the good today.

I hope you’ve saved a seat at the table for the most generous guest of the day – patience.

I hope you can greet the sorrows and regrets that come knocking at the door and say – hello, there is even room for you here. I can live with you.

I hope happiness slips in the side door when no one is looking.

The only guest I hope you turn away is the lean spirit of bitterness. 

I hope you ask for what you need today, whether that is help in the kitchen or more kindness in your home. 

I hope you get to watch that football game. Or take that nap. 

I hope that gratitude comes quietly and finds you where you are.

I hope that you feel love – and loved – today.

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One thing I’m thankful for today?

We don’t live in the world imagined by Margaret Atwood in her Booker-Prize -winning new novel, The Testaments.

I’ve had the chance to discuss The Testaments with two different groups now – my couples book club and a wonderful group of Harpeth Hall alumnae (though I myself am not an alum).

In Gilead – the world Atwood invented for The Handmaid’s Tale and continues to imagine in The Testaments – a small number of powerful men (the “Commanders”) run the country, which is what remains of the United States. Women have circumscribed roles: they can be a Commander’s Wife or an “Econowife”; an “Aunt,” celibate, who governs the women’s sphere; a “Martha,” who is a housekeeper and caregiver; or a “Handmaid,” who bears children, taken from her at the moment of birth.

The Testaments is a page turner. Will Gilead fall? Who works against it, from the inside? Can she possibly succeed in bringing down the regime before she is found? There is intrigue. Chase scenes. Violence.

The Testaments is also a study in character, posing profound ethical dilemmas. It follows the lifelines and life choices of three women – Aunt Lydia, the most senior of the Aunts in Gilead; Agnes, the daughter of a Gilead Commander; and Daisy, the daughter of members of the “Underground Femaleroad” in Canada who help women escape from Gilead.

The Testaments has been hailed far and wide as a political novel, a novel for our times. A wake-up call.

I think it’s a terrific novel, engaging and suspenseful and brilliantly creative. I highly recommend it for those reasons.

As a wake-up call for America? Not so much.

Gilead is a theocracy and a totalitarian state. It’s a world of black and white, and the dividing line is gender. Religion is used to justify and control. I don’t see those as particular dangers in our country – either theocracy or totalitarianism. One can find an actual theocracy in Iran and actual state control of citizens in Russia and China. We aren’t even tiptoeing towards those regimes in the way we govern ourselves.

The wake-up call we need?

We sit at a bountiful table. Forgiveness, patience, forbearance, and laughter are among us. Along with our imperfect relatives – and imperfect selves. Our imperfect past. Our worthy ideals and aspirations.

We need eyes to see each other more clearly.

 

*      *      *

Photo credit: Cornucopia (Photo: Saratica Cornucopia, Flicker Sharing).

23 Comments

  1. Thank you Jennifer. Just the good wishes I needed to hear!

  2. Just what I needed to read before I head into the kitchen! Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Thank you Jennifer!
    This is beautiful! Blessings on you and your family…. xo

  4. So well said! We live in a “chicken little” world. The sky is NOT falling! But the more we shout it out, the more likely it is that we will bring it down upon ourselves.

  5. Beautifully written, Jennifer! Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Jennifer, Thanks for warm , comfortable and gratefull thoughts on this Thanksgiving Day.

  7. Love this, Jennifer! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving .

  8. Love this Jennifer! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  9. Well that was beautiful Jennifer!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  10. Happy Thanksgiving, Jennifer (and Pepper and the whole family)! I think you need to bring this message to LA…we could use it out here.

  11. Thank you Jennifer! And thank you for leading the discussion for our Harpeth Hall Book Club!

  12. I didn’t get to open this until today because the bountiful table was at our house. I am thankful for your lovely thoughts and that I feel they were reflected at our table.
    I wish you times of joy in the coming weeks.

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