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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
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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
32,43292949 (4.11)2007
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
    1984 by George Orwell (cflorente, norabelle414, Schwehnchen)
  2. 524
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (ateolf)
  3. 402
    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. 2410
    The Giver by Lois Lowry (cflorente)
  8. 151
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Schwehnchen, mcenroeucsb)
  9. 229
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (wosret)
  10. 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.
  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. 167
    V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (readerbabe1984)
  15. 101
    We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (themephi)
  16. 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.
  17. 92
    Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (k8_not_kate)
  18. 92
    The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (bookcrushblog)
  19. 60
    I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman (wosret)
  20. 60
    Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (MyriadBooks)

(see all 63 recommendations)

1980s (1)
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» See also 2007 mentions

English (891)  Spanish (9)  French (6)  Catalan (5)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (3)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (927)
Showing 1-5 of 891 (next | show all)
I think I would have liked this more if I had read it in high school. It seems like a great pick for classroom discussions, but it was too contrived for my tastes. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum.

Been wanting to read this book for the longest time, and finally got to knock it out. A 300 page read, this book has one of the most unique “voices” I have come across. The book contains short, crisp sentences in fragmented narrative structures that bounce back and forth between timelines and locations – and yet the book manages to feel seamless, expansive and smooth. Heavily descriptive and mastering “show don’t tell”, the book manages to get us both in the head and the surroundings of our main character – “Offred”.

In the introduction, Margaret Atwood writes:
“If you mean an ideological tract in which all women are angels and/or so victimized they are incapable of moral choice, no. If you mean a novel in which women are human beings — with all the variety of character and behavior that implies — and are also interesting and important, and what happens to them is crucial to the theme, structure and plot of the book, then yes.”

It is very important to understand this basic perspective to consider Atwood’s novel.

The book captures beautifully the humans in tyranny- those that simultaneously suffer from it and uphold it. It depicts the deep, flawed guesswork that goes into forming friendships and alliances in a dystopian world, and the longing and nostalgia for love that has been lost.

It’s a classic for a reason. ( )
  Radiohead1985 | Jun 1, 2020 |
I'm probably the last person on earth to read this. Troubling, to say the least, perhaps especially during a pandemic. After the president is assassinated, the US becomes Republic of Gilead, a right-wing theocracy that elevates men, a perverted version of Christianity, and white people at the expense of all others. I can't begin to describe the complicated caste system, but suffice it to say the story is told by a Handmaid named Offred. The job of Handmaids is to bear children for the white Commanders. Apparently, many people are now sterile, perhaps due to pollution and sexually-transmitted disease. The Handmaids are basically slaves, but there are some who have it even worse. There is also a resistance force within Gilead, but it is very difficult and dangerous to find out who might belong. If you ask the wrong question(s), or do the wrong thing you will easily meet with death.
Again, very troubling, but I do see many parallels between it and current society, even though things are taken to an extreme, and more blatant, in Gilead. ( )
  cherybear | May 31, 2020 |
4.5 stars

Reread for my Canadian Fiction class. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
A woman in a dystopia is assigned to rich men to bear children.

1.5/4 (Meh).

I gave up after 80-some pages. I don't know why I thought it could possibly be a good idea to try reading this. Nope nope nope. ( )
  comfypants | May 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 891 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (46 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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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 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
(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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Information from the Spanish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

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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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