Her parents, Melanie and Neil, owned and operated a used clothing store called The Clothes Hound in Toronto, Canada. Melanie worked the sales floor and managed inventory, and Neil did the accounting. Neil also collected a variety of objects on shelves in his office, and he had a special interest in cameras. He also kept a mysterious object in his safe, which Daisy thought was a toy but never got to play with. Daisy spent virtually all of her free time helping out in the store since Melanie worried about her staying in the house alone.

In addition to customers, several other types frequented the store. Street people sometimes came in to use the restroom. A middle-aged woman named Ada also visited often. Melanie claimed she was a close friend, but Daisy found it suspicious that Ada always arrived in a different car. Finally, silver-clad missionaries from Gilead—known as “Pearl Girls”—occasionally came in to deliver brochures. Many of these brochures featured images and slogans related to Baby Nicole.

Melanie and Neil were different from other parents. For one thing, they had no photographs of Daisy growing up. For another, they were overprotective. Just before her sixteenth birthday, Daisy attended an assembly protesting Gilead’s human rights violations against her parents’ wishes. At first, the protest thrilled her, but when skirmishes broke out, she tried to flee. Ada found her in the crowd and escorted her home, where she saw herself on the news.

Three days later, there was a break-in at The Clothes Hound, and Neil said the thieves had taken an old camera. That night, the news reported on a Pearl Girl known as Aunt Adrianna, who was found dead, hanging from a doorknob in a condo.

On the day of her birthday, Daisy went to school as usual. But at the end of the day, Ada appeared to pick her up instead of Melanie and explained that Daisy’s parents had both died from a car bomb planted outside their store.

Analysis: Parts III–IV

In the second part of her manuscript, the author of “The Ardua Hall Holograph” reveals herself as Aunt Lydia. Readers of The Handmaid’s Tale will know that Aunt Lydia featured prominently in that novel as one of the most formidable and dangerous female representatives of Gilead’s theocratic regime. Aunt Lydia made many misogynist statements that showed her to be complicit in sustaining the patriarchal system of male dominance. Offred, the protagonist of the earlier novel, had special contempt for Aunt Lydia, who compelled her to go through a traumatic process of “re-education.” However, now that Aunt Lydia speaks from her own point of view, her character begins to take on a different appearance. Whereas in The Handmaid’s Tale the reader only ever viewed Aunt Lydia through the eyes of others, her first-person narrative in The Testaments promises to provide a behind-the-scenes account of her own experience. Even if such an account may not exonerate her of her crimes, it may help explain the reasons for her involvement with Gilead’s ruling class and the actions she’s performed on its behalf.