The Testaments by Margaret Atwood:
I have said our life was placid, but perhaps that is not the right word. It was at any rate orderly, albeit somewhat monotonous. Our time was filled, but in a strange way it did not seem to pass. I’d been fourteen when I’d been admitted as a Supplicant, and although I was now grown up, I did not appear to myself to have grown much older. It was the same with Becka: we seemed to be frozen in some way; preserved, as if in ice.
The Founders and the older Aunts had edges to them. They’d been moulded in an age before Gilead, they’d had struggles we had been spared, and these struggles had ground off the softness that might once have been there. But we hadn’t forced to undergo such ordeals. We’d been protected, we hadn’t needed to deal with the harshness of the world at large. We were the beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by our forebears. We were constantly reminded of this, and ordered to be grateful. But it’s difficult to be grateful for the absence of an unknown quantity. I’m afraid we did not fully appreciate the extent to which those of Aunt Lydia’s generation had been hardened in the fire. They had a ruthlessness about them that we lacked.