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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

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

by Margaret Atwood (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
35,738103348 (4.11)2071
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.
Title:The Handmaid's Tale
Authors:Margaret Atwood (Author)
Info:Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (1998), Edition: 1st Anchor Books, 311 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

  1. 727
    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (cflorente, norabelle414, Schwehnchen)
  2. 544
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    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.
  5. 254
    The Road by Cormac McCarthy (mrstreme)
  6. 160
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (smiteme)
  7. 161
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  8. 249
    The Giver by Lois Lowry (cflorente)
  9. 219
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  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
    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)
  12. 110
    The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper (lesvrolyk)
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    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.
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  17. 92
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  18. 92
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  20. 60
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(see all 66 recommendations)

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Margaret Atwood wrote a great piece on her classic novel: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/books/review/margaret-atwood-handmaids-tale-a... ( )
  Bruyere_C | Dec 2, 2021 |
An unmatched level of prose in this one. Parts of the story stopped me short, with haunting flickers of relatability in traumatic female experiences. It's obviously a classic that I needed to finally check off my TBR list, but now I have to read the sequel because the ending left me hanging off a cliff! ( )
  kristilabrie | Dec 1, 2021 |
I have mixed feelings about this book. My curiosity to see what the talk is about. I haven’t seen any streaming versions as I hold strong to the belief that books are more influential than video versions. Although, in this case, I have heard that some people enjoy the series more so than the book itself. With that said, here is my version of the events.

Stripped of their names and identities, Offred as she is known narrates the story in a stream of consciousness kind of way where some comments are memories and some appear to be dreams. She lives subconsciously to survive the new normal in which she finds herself. Sometimes, it seems that she no longer trusts her own judgment and those around her.

It’s no wonder there is so much suspicion and paranoia since it seems like the society was turned upside down overnight. An unspeakable war emerges where families are separated and classified according to their fertility and morality as deemed by the powers that be. Commanders who wield some power also seem to be under the influence of their Wife.

The routines and lifestyle are so dysfunctional and scary yet almost reminiscent of other times in history. Although in history women weren’t forced to wear red and have sex for the sole purpose of reproduction, the distribution of power has always been controversial. Freedom has always been a focus on contention between the “haves” and the “have nots”.

The historical notes of the story present as a psychological case study from the past, as artifacts, studied, and hypothesized. Like many traumatic events in the history of mankind, evidence to support the existence prevails. Just as the end of this story doesn’t really have an “ending” that one might expect.

I don’t usually really dystopian novels but when I do there is usually much controversy and discussion regarding the themes and intentions of the author. This book is no exception. Alas, there is a sequel written which perhaps may enlighten me further or not. ( )
  marquis784 | Nov 21, 2021 |
I knew nothing about this book going in other than it was tv series on Hulu now and that it was dystopian. During the first part of the book, I assumed that it had been written in the era of Heinlein and Clark as it had a dated feel to it. Learning that it was published in 1985 changed my perspective greatly because the heavy-handed in its message that men are evil makes less sense in 1985 then it did in 1945. In 1985, there were signs that fascism was becoming the domain of the far left, not the right, and in 2017, fascism is becoming part of the mainstream left.

It reminded of the time right after Trump's election when liberals started creating hate crimes against themselves because they wanted conservatives to act that way to justify their hatred of Trump. Of course, conservatives didn't act that way, but that didn't stop the liberals from inventing hate crimes. This book, in the same way, shows how Atwood wants to men to act to justify her misandry, despite reality.

This book could have been so much better. I compare it with [a:N. K. Jemisin|15752274|N. K. Jemisin|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png], another author whom I am diametrically opposed to politically, but handled these types of issues far better in her book [b:The Fifth Season|19161852|The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)|N.K. Jemisin|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1386803701s/19161852.jpg|26115977]. The only part of the book that really addresses this the last section which reveals that The Handmaid's Tale is an historical document being researched many years later after the fall of Gilead. The events still take place in the 1990/200s I believe and I have a hard time swallowing the basic setup, but we are getting it through the eyes of someone not involved in the actual destruction of society. Perhaps some context would have made the story more palatable, but I'm sure that's not what the author was going for. ( )
3 vote LeBleuUn | Nov 14, 2021 |
Holy shit. ( )
  Cerestheories | Nov 8, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 985 (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.
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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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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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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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