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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale (original 1985; edition 2010)

by Margaret Atwood (Author)

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29,48282851 (4.11)1829
Title:The Handmaid's Tale
Authors:Margaret Atwood (Author)
Info:Vintage classics, 2010.
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:Fiction, Dystopia

Work details

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

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Showing 1-5 of 797 (next | show all)
I finally finished a book this year. Not counting American Gods because I started reading that in 2018 and only had a handful of pages left by the new year.

The Handmaid's Tale is a brutal, intense book. I kept comparing it to the hulu series but stopped myself halfway through because much like the Man in the High Castle, it veers away from the source material wildly, with only a few scenes and moments of dialogue staying true to the written story. (TMITHC is a much "worse" offender of not staying true to the source material, most of the characters names and positions are the same but that's pretty much it.)

Anyway, I didn't expect it to end the way it did, but with the world Atwood had built for the story, I can't imagine it ending any other way. There's no revolution, no toppling of the totalitarian regime. Not that I expected those things. I think it's just human nature to want to see the fall of oppressors. The uprising of the oppressed. Instead we just get a quiet escape and the hope for a better future for Offred. Which is a much more optimistic ending than I anticipated.

Atwood was also good about not making men as a whole the villain. In a way, the men of Gilead are trapped in systems that they might not be willing participants of. Although, not comparable in any way to the situation facing the Handmaids, but if they are subversive or unwilling to play their roles in the society, they too get "Salvaged". Or torn apart by Handmaids in a "particicution" which is worse than simply being hanged or shot. Torn apart by women who you may have been trying to help when you got caught.

Anyway, good book. Cool epilogue that expands the world and its future. Seems things had returned to normal, and the events of Gilead are being studied much like the study of slavery. Unearthing underground femaleroads, finding other accounting from Handmaids. It still leaves Offred's fate uncertain but still seems more hopeful than not. ( )
  Nick85 | Mar 13, 2019 |
Re-read after more than 25 years - the same mass paperback too, yellowed and brittle - the edges of the cover kept breaking off in my hands. In preparation for an IRL book group and the upcoming TV series. (So excited.) Carting this book all over the country for decades has finally paid off ;) I'm sure I liked it back then, but now all of Atwood's speculative fiction are desert island books for me.

Possibly.....a sequel? http://www.theloop.ca/margaret-atwood-just-secretly-announce-handmaids-tale-sequ... ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Vague characterizations, vague explanations of the storyworld, implausibilities, sledgehammer agenda, overwriting, very little suspense (though enough to compel me to finish, at least, expecting some twist to make it all suddenly genius or worthwhile).

Examples of the prose follow. If you find these paragraphs clever and well-crafted, you'll enjoy the book's style. If you find them laborious and redundant, well...

p. 247 Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it's heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. Wool blanket.

p. 290 Now there's a space to be filled, in the too warm air of my room, and a time also; a space-time, between here and now and there and then, punctuated by dinner. The arrival of the tray, carried up the stairs as if for an invalid. An invalid, one who has been invalidated. No valid passport. No exit.

p. 305 My head, shorn of [the wings of the habit], feels curiously light; as if a weight has been removed from it, or substance. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
If you are looking for a book that is depressing and oppressive then this is the book for you. The first 100 pages drag on and on with the proverbial carrot dangling in front of your nose before it gets finally interesting. The ending is likewise laborious to drag yourself through, but at least it ties up loose ends.
Gilead is the United States in the future, where all women are subservient and next to worthless citizens who are allowed very little and dominated by their betters, men. They are not allowed to have friends, speak to one another, read, dress in anything much more than a nun's habit in colors chosen for their various stations in life. Offred, our cowardly main character, who we never learn the real name of, is so disappointing as a woman. It follows her story as a handmaid, which is in essence a concubine.
There is no reason ever given for the Presidents Day massacre when the government is taken over, nor is there a reason for the suppression and easy take over and demoralization of women. For the life of me I can not imagine the women that I know to be so easily taken down! Seriously?
This is one of the most depressing books I've ever read. I wouldn't waste my time if I were you, if you are really curious about this book and have Hulu, watch the adaptation instead, maybe it will be better than this book is. ( )
  LydiaGranda | Feb 15, 2019 |
You can see why this book is considered a contemporary classic. The narration is beautiful, the characters rich in depth, and the world building so immaculate that it could really happen. Atwood really uses the "unreliable narrator" to great effect here - no one person would really know what would go on in such a dangerous regime. And yet, gives us enough knowledge to fill in the gaps by ourselves.

Even the intellectual debate about the "story" as an epilogue is so realistic as to bring even more questions to the reader's head.

I recommend to anyone who loves sci-fi, feminism, dystopian fiction, or anything like that. ( )
  yassie_j | Feb 11, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 797 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Atwood, Margaretprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, AnnaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, ElenaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boyd, FlorenceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danes, ClaireNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
David, JoannaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennati, CamilloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.

And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?

And she said, Behold my maid Bihah, go in unto her, and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.
                              — Genesis 30:1-3
But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal. . .
                              — Jonathan Swift,
A Modest Proposal
In the desert there is no sign that says, Thou shalt not eat stones.
                              — Sufi proverb
For Mary Webster and Perry Miller
First words
We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.
As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and, try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of our own day.
Time has not stood still. It has washed over me, washed me away, as if I’m nothing more than a woman of sand, left by a careless child too near the water.
The shell of the egg is smooth but also grained; small pebbles of calcium are defined by the sunlight, like craters on the moon. It's a barren landscape, yet perfect; it's the sort of desert the saints went into, so their minds would not be distracted by profusions. I think that this is what God must look like: an egg. The life of the moon may not be on the surface, but inside.
But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest. Maybe none of this is about control... Maybe it's about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.
There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia, freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it.
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Disambiguation notice
The Reading Guide Edition is the substantial equivalent the main Handmaid's Tale work, with a few additional pages of questions for groups to consider at the back. Please therefore leave these works combined together. Thank you
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038549081X, Paperback)

In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now....

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:22 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A look at the near future presents the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, once the United States, an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are viable for reproduction.

(summary from another edition)

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