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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
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The Handmaid's Tale (original 1985; edition 1998)

by Margaret Atwood

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Member:CalvinBoesch
Title:The Handmaid's Tale
Authors:Margaret Atwood
Info:Anchor (1998), Edition: 1st Anchor Books, Paperback, 311 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

Recently added bycattylj, private library, JMlibrarian, EchoRidge, gamasennin, AngieDixon
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» See also 1360 mentions

English (488)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (2)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (505)
Showing 1-5 of 488 (next | show all)
This is a haunting tale.

Women are rounded up, assessed for fertility, compliance and therefore worth and assigned to castes accordingly. Told as the solution to declining birth rates put forward by Christian doctrine, it feels very much dystopian but if it were to be told under the backdrop of an extreme Islamist regime it wouldn't seem unplausible.

The Handmaids are blinkered by head dresses, covered up from head to toe and are not allowed to read, look at themselves in the mirror or even to speak freely. Any infraction is instantly punishable by death. They have only a limited number of chances to prove their worth by providing their assigned Commanders and their wives with children or they are rebranded as un-women and sentenced to a fate where they work until they die.

It was terrifying to read, it was bleak and as I was reading it I kept thinking... what if?

The ending is ambiguous but that didn't bother me so much, some stories are better when you don't know where everybody ends up, it allows the reader to come to their own conclusion. ( )
1 vote KittyBimble | Feb 12, 2015 |
I'm searching for a 7-letter word that connects to "numb."

I have a lot of goodwill towards this book. The Handmaid's Tale will always be of its time, in this reader's mind at least, because the subject it concerns itself with - let's term it, Exploitation - is always in style. There is the opinion expressed in other reviews here, and it's a reasonable one I admit, that books set in the future are to be about the future. But how can anyone read this work and not extrapolate its described situation back to the world as it is today? The book concernes itself with the present, and it does so every year.

In the mundane sense, the story begins shortly after a Ten-gallon Hat Taliban firearms its way into power. [I just thought of the word I was looking for - "Freedom!"] Every house has a "Commander" and, without explicitly stating it as such, is rounded out with the Commanded. These characters are not well-rounded but it's not a well-rounded situation they find themselves in. These are actually characters designed to fit the narrative and not ones intended to drive it. The fact that I don't particularly care about the narrator of the story works to the book's advantage. It's not about her just as it's not about the future. It's about us.

SPOILER ALERT! The epilogue absolutely rocks as far as I'm concerned for one reason and that is that it clears up a question I had from before I had even started reading the book. Yes, the title is indeed a play on words. lol. ( )
1 vote KevinNeedsGlasses | Feb 10, 2015 |
Very thought provoking. Well written with interesting and relatable characters. Delve into a very possible scenario -- a world where everything is controlled and new life is a rare and precious gift. I highly recommend this read if you're after something different that will seriously make you think! ( )
1 vote rhrh319 | Feb 7, 2015 |
I get that it's an oral recollection of a time after women's rights are stripped and religious extremism has taken over, but gods does it get hard to follow.
I like that she explores the "speakeasy" aspects of this new way, and how we're in the transitioning period in the book, but I wish there was a stronger depth of character for all of them. Although Offred is probably just going insane. ( )
  ooshwiggity | Feb 1, 2015 |
I felt like this story had too much description and not enough action. It seemed like the narrator was talking about exciting events in the dullest possible way. I'm also not a big fan of the unreliable narrator, who admits to lying and retells different versions of the same events over and over.

The concept for a future ultra-misogynistic society was interesting, but the way the story was told fell flat for me. ( )
  wishanem | Jan 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 488 (next | show all)
As a cautionary tale, Atwood's novel lacks the direct, chilling plausibility of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World. It warns against too much: heedless sex, excessive morality, chemical and nuclear pollution. All of these may be worthwhile targets, but such a future seems more complicated than dramatic. But Offred's narrative is fascinating in a way that transcends tense and time: the record of an observant soul struggling against a harsh, mysterious world.
added by Shortride | editTime, Paul Gray (Feb 10, 1986)
 
How sad for postfeminists that one does not feel for Offred-June half as much as one did for Winston Smith, no hero either but at any rate imaginable. It seems harsh to say again of a poet's novel - so hard to put down, in part so striking - that it lacks imagination, but that, I fear, is the problem.
 
It's a bleak world that Margaret Atwood opens up for us in her new novel, ''The Handmaid's Tale'' - how bleak and even terrifying we will not fully realize until the story's final pages. But the sensibility through which we view this world is infinitely rich and abundant. And that's why Miss Atwood has succeeded with her anti-Utopian novel where most practitioners of this Orwellian genre have tended to fail.
 

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Atwoodprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Battey, FrancesCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sibthorp, FletcherCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
For Mary Webster and Perry Miller
First words
We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.
Quotations
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 withold 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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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Wikipedia in English (6)

Book description
From the back of the book: 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 market 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, Offredd and the other handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offredd can remember the years 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…..
Haiku summary

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:40 -0400)

(see all 9 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)

» see all 13 descriptions

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