The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

Book - 1998
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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.
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 valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred 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.
Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, 1998, c1986
Edition: 1st Anchor Books ed
ISBN: 9780385490818
038549081X
9780808598299
0808598295
9780606181242
0606181245
9781328879943
1328879941
Characteristics: 311 p. ; 21 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Read the book by Margaret Atwood that led to award nominated Netflix original series. See if you can spot Atwood's cameo in the first episode!


From the critics


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a
ajax_6_0
Jun 21, 2018

Read this after watching the tv series. It really adds a lot to the story!

JCLAmyF Jun 07, 2018

I read this because I recently watched Hulu's series and was blown away. It was delightful to read the book and get more details. Atwood's writing is poignant, simple and beautiful. This book is hard to read because of its realistic portrayal of gender oppression. Highly recommended.

t
talk2terih
May 10, 2018

It is possible to admire this book without liking it, especially if you are a female. We pride ourselves on how far we've come in terms of winning the vote, being able to own property and have our own money, to work, and to choose our life partners. But this book reminds us that everything we have gained could be wiped out in a few keystrokes on a computer. Most men wouldn't act to help us, and even our sisters would largely sit placidly by, fearing reprisal.
The book is frightening because it has a solid element of truth. As the religious right grows more politically powerful, we worry as we see the reduced status of their women. Are we standing on the brink of the handmaid's world?
The book is well written, the longing for what went before, along with the flat affect of hopelessness is beautifully reflected in the matter-of-fact, terse, prose style of the narrating character. You can see who she was before in the agonized personal memories she recounts in at times lively and evocative prose. And you can see who she has become as she repeatedly has to correct herself from referring to her husband and child in the past tense.
Be prepared for a very dark vision when you pick up this book. But it is a vision we would do good to remind ourselves could come to pass if we are not vigilant.

s
singidunum_25
Apr 27, 2018

https://lithub.com/margaret-atwood-on-how-she-came-to-write-the-handmaids-tale/

e
evilbunnee
Apr 10, 2018

If monotone is your jam, this is the book for you.

p
p33atti
Mar 12, 2018

Awful. Just awful.
Can't believe they made it a movie! :-/

x
xiaojunbpl12
Feb 23, 2018

Writing is graceful, though dogmatic dotted in Offred’s otherwise lyrical narration. Story is well structured, concluded with a epilogue (notes) which clarifies further, but appears more like an appendage to undermine the ending.
Based on historical (real) conditions with author’s perspective and interpretation, I’d pondered if it were plausible when I cared about such dystopian tale more than I’m affected by hyped buzz.

j
jmli
Jan 28, 2018

I am honestly so torn. I hated this book, but I also loved it at the same time.

What stuck out most to me is that The Handmaid's Tale is so moving, elegant yet subtle, and so relatable on a certain level. At the same time, Offred is SO real that it's haunting. And that's probably why I'm also terrified as an individual. This is the first book I've read that's really addressed all the sides to a human being. I truly connected with its message, and I am hoping to dive into some kind of follow-up.

Final, few minor problems I had were the world-building and quotation marks. Sometimes, Atwood employs the use of quotation marks and sometimes, she just doesn't. I'm not sure if there's a reason, or if she just felt like it. Also, there is so much information regarding the society, but I was so curious, and I think there could've been more detail.

At the same time, the transition between different time periods is difficult. I couldn't quite place my finger on whether or not the event occurring was a flashback or currently taking place.

If you've seen other ratings, you'll know that The Handmaid's Tale ends on a rather open note, but I think it was pretty fulfilling and satisfying. It really depends on personal opinion, but it shouldn't be something that stops a reader from approaching this novel. It's worth it.

Looking back at my 3-star rating, I think 4 to 4.5 would better fit how I really feel. But I guess this approximation is a better illustration of the complexity of The Handmaid's Tale and its true meaning.

d
Dolly9433
Jan 25, 2018

Jan. 25th/2018, :)
THE MOVIE IS V. GOOD & MUCH BETTER THAN THE BOOK, AND WORTHWHILE TO SEE - RECOMMENDED.
Ok, This 'Crazy', and scary, oppressive book summarizes or resembles, George Orwells, futuristic indoctrination of society in his 1984 novel. The story unfolds a stagnant, sadistic, regressive community, which sets examples of public displays of lynchings and out casting of infertile misfits to toxic-chemical, 'Death-camps' - for small crimes and misdemeanours as one means of controlling the mass populations: vaguely, yet uniquely parallel in structure to that of the Nazi German armed forces.
Other means of population & mind control included: a new formation of a completely uniformed, "HIERARCHAL REGIME", committed to ritualistic burnings of intelligence materials, food & product rationing, strict emotion control, specific impregnating & birthing procedures, religious issues, and depressing women into old traditional roles which reminded me of red tape, Communist China's previous order, and also mirror's that of North Korean's repressive, dictatorship State. However, in direct contrast and opposition to this strict, new regime: I particularily enjoyed, 'MOIRA'S', moxy, rebellious attitude and very fun/exciting character! :) .
This book also resembles 2 movies, seen: 1) The Island 2) Equilibrium - both of which are good and entertaining features worth watching. :) Lol.
Lastly, one cannot help but wonder or imagine in horror - what would happen to us - if our current day, advanced, free or privileged North Western societies around the world - reverted back into this Handmaid's Tale, of living day, reality? ;) lol... Overall a v. popular, unnerving yet creative, interesting and thought-provoking, read! Thx.

tch2917 Jan 06, 2018

One of customers at the Snellville Branch recommended this book. I completed it in one day! The society and relationships revealed from the perspective of this handmaid is complex, layered yet terrifyingly realistically portrayed! I cannot wait to binge watch the corresponding series. Highly recommended!

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Quotes

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j
jmli
Jan 28, 2018

As long as we do this, butter our skin to keep it soft, we can believe that we will some day get out,
that we will be touched again, in love or desire. We have ceremonies of our own, private ones.

j
jmli
Jan 28, 2018

There can be alliances even in such places, even under such circumstances. This is something you can depend upon: there will always be alliances of one kind of another.

j
jmli
Jan 28, 2018

It is the hardest for you. We know the sacrifices you are being expected to make. It is hard when men revile you. For the ones who come after you, it will be easier. They will accept their duties with willing hearts. She did not say: Because they will have no memories, of any other way. She said: Because they won't want things they can't have.

j
jmli
Jan 28, 2018

What he's telling us, his level smile implies, is for our own good. Everything will be all right soon.
I promise. There will be peace. You must trust. You must go to sleep, like good children.

j
jmli
Jan 28, 2018

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.

j
jmli
Jan 28, 2018

Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.

PimaLib_JB Oct 28, 2014

“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.”

PimaLib_JB Oct 28, 2014

“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.”

s
SlotFather
Jul 11, 2014

I want everything back, the way it was. But there is no point to it, this wanting.

p
Pisinga
Jun 02, 2013

“Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse, for some.”

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Age

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s
steven_hahn
Jun 01, 2018

steven_hahn thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

b
blue_cat_16312
May 18, 2018

blue_cat_16312 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

j
jmli
Jan 28, 2018

jmli thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

j
jjwoodard
Jun 01, 2017

jjwoodard thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

c
csrestall
Jun 01, 2017

csrestall thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

e
eparti
Mar 29, 2015

eparti thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

EuSei Jan 25, 2013

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

s
Saralovebaig
Nov 28, 2012

Saralovebaig thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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hardkorelish
Apr 16, 2011

hardkorelish thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Notices

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c
csrestall
Jun 01, 2017

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Hangings and group lynching

c
csrestall
Jun 01, 2017

Sexual Content: Explicit sexual scenes

c
csrestall
Jun 01, 2017

Violence: group mob attack section

Summary

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c
csrestall
Jun 01, 2017

Offred lives in a society where women are valued purely for their ability to reproduce because of rampant bareness caused by radioactive materials. Offred is one of the handmaids who are forced to procreate under the direct supervision of their commanding 'wives'. Offred had a family and a child of her own which were taken from her when she was forced to become property. All aspects of her life are controlled on pain of death. Things start to spiral downward when her Commander (baby daddy) starts speaking to her outside of the prearranged time he promises her glimpses of her old life. She is also forced into a sexual encounter with one of the servant men after her commanding wife feels the commander is incapable of getting her pregnant. She continues on this relationship even though she is afraid of being found out. The book ends rather abruptly when Offred is taken away in a van which is known to dispose of rebellious handmaids. It is implied that her lover helps her escape although it is ambiguous.

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