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The Handmaid's Tale (1985)

by Margaret Atwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Handmaid's Tale (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
35,399102448 (4.11)2068
This 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.
  1. 717
    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (cflorente, norabelle414, Schwehnchen)
  2. 534
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (ateolf)
  3. 392
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (readerbabe1984, rosylibrarian, ateolf, browner56)
    browner56: Two chilling, though extremely well written, reminders that liberty, freedom, and self-determination are not idle concepts.
  4. 403
    Brave New World & Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley (fannyprice)
  5. 254
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy (mrstreme)
  6. 160
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (smiteme)
  7. 249
    The Giver by Lois Lowry (cflorente)
  8. 161
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Schwehnchen, mcenroeucsb)
  9. 120
    Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (krazy4katz)
    krazy4katz: An upside down recommendation, as this is an "all-women" utopia rather than a dystopia, but a fun read.
  10. 219
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (wosret)
  11. 110
    The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper (lesvrolyk)
  12. 110
    When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: The Handmaid's Tale is the classic forerunner to dystopic fiction of sexist futures. When She Woke picks up the mantel with a more modern version of a misogynistic theocracy taking over government. Both show terrifying futures for the state of women in society.… (more)
  13. 111
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (smiteme)
  14. 101
    We: A Novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin (themephi)
  15. 124
    The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (wosret, Kaelkivial)
    Kaelkivial: Both stories of strong women who resist (in one form or another) the system that holds them down. Both books fairly fast paced and gripping; acts of violence and loss scattered throughout.
  16. 157
    V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (readerbabe1984)
  17. 92
    Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (k8_not_kate)
  18. 92
    The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (bookcrushblog)
  19. 82
    The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (LamontCranston)
  20. 60
    I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman (wosret)

(see all 64 recommendations)

1980s (1)
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English (975)  Spanish (12)  French (7)  Catalan (5)  Dutch (4)  German (4)  Swedish (3)  Finnish (3)  Hebrew (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Arabic (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (1,019)
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The no quotation marks at first were a huge getting used to. I understand why Margaret Atwood did it to show it had happened in the past, but it was still confusing at times when reading. ( )
  oldandnewbooksmell | Sep 24, 2021 |
A classic among many, turned into a television show and has a sequel coming out later this year. I saw this gorgeous edition one day and I had to read it asap. I had heard about the television series and I knew sort of what it was about. But I never felt the need to pick it up. After seeing this edition I just had to have it.

In a society where women can’t always provide new life into this world, Offred is being kept in a house by her Commander. Offred is one of the few who still can have kids. She is kept to breed for her Commander and offer an offspring. If she decides to speak out, run away or refuses, she’ll be hanged at the wall. A wall where many women died before her. How can she survive being trapped and locked up? Will there be a way out of this? What actions led to this society?

This book was good! An adult dystopian novel which was a first for me. The world building was amazing. Atwood describes a realist world that isn’t unthinkable. She introduces characters that are memorable and easy to follow. The setting was well thought out. Most of this book you spend in a house or flashbacks. What really helped this story. Without the flashbacks I don’t think I would have enjoyed it quite as much. The wardrobe was an excellent choice, I mean you only have to look at the clothing and know what is happening.
The plot or story on the other hand I found lacking. It’s just that there wasn’t much happening. If you are not counting the flashback you just have a story about a week in a woman’s life. A very scary life and I can’t imagine how horrible it must be but still just a "normal" week. I just feel like there was too much time spend on the world and all the elements that make it a believing society instead of the actual plot.

This classic is truly something special. Having a few flaws didn’t stop me from reading and enjoying it.
( )
  luclicious | Sep 20, 2021 |
Review. Re-view. Viewing something again. View. Something you see out the window, there used to be windows, it was all so normal for us then, but now the windows are gone, or not gone, but open. Why are they open? I'm cold. ( )
  RebeccaBooks | Sep 16, 2021 |
Fabulous writing. Really engrossing. ( )
  jamestomasino | Sep 11, 2021 |
The Handmaid's Tale offers a scary view of an alternative world under totalitarianism where freedom is circumscribed, even for those in power. Treasure your freedom to do whatever you want. ( )
  siok | Sep 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 975 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (38 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
Moss, ElisabethNarratorsecondary 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.
Last words
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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
Publisher's editors
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Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (4)

This 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.

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Book description
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules.
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Average: (4.11)
0.5 18
1 138
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2.5 94
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