The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Classics
Publisher: Vintage Books (Penguin)
Original Publication Date: 1985
Format: Paperback (324 pages)
The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.
Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first-century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception.
My Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
I went into this book knowing quite little about it. I knew it was a dystopian novel and that it is considered to be a feminist piece of literature. Really that was all I needed to know in order for me to read this classic.
I’m not sure that I can say I truly enjoyed reading this book. It made me feel exceptionally uncomfortable and I hated so much about the society Offred was living in but this is the whole point of the book. Margaret Atwood has created a society that people feel uncomfortable with, or at least I hope they do. It was obvious from the outset why this book is considered to be such a huge influence on people’s lives and why it inspired so many to call themselves feminists.
This is a very well written book but I was confused at times. Maybe something to do with reading this on my early morning commutes, but sometimes I lost track of what was going on with the timeline sometimes moving around and the talk of her life ‘before’. Atwood also doesn’t use speech marks so it took a while for my brain to adjust to when there was dialogue and when there wasn’t. That being said, this book is very well written and it was so realistic that I had to keep reminding myself that this terrifying dystopian world was not my reality.
The most frightening thing about this whole book is that the society Offred lives in isn’t too far-fetched. There are enough references to the real world and things that happen in our society today that it is not impossible that this could happen. In today’s climate more than ever I think this is a book that more people need to read.
I’m glad that I read this even if I can’t quite bring myself to say that I ‘enjoyed’ it. It really is a masterpiece of its own. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what the upcoming miniseries will be like and I know for a fact that I’ll be watching!
Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale? What did you think?
If you have, what other books do you recommend that are similar?