- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (19 September 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099740915
- ISBN-13: 978-0099740919
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 101 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Handmaid's Tale (Contemporary Classics) Paperback – 19 Sep 1996
|Paperback, 19 Sep 1996||
Audio Cassette, Audiobook, Import
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"One of Atwood’s finest pieces of work serves as a great reminder of what humanity is capable of." (Hannah Dunn Red)
"Margaret Atwood is a wry and perceptive observer of society as well as an original storyteller" (Cecilia Heyes Psychologist)
"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" (Essence)
"This is a novel pervaded by violence, sex, terror, but also by contemplation, analysis and – occasionally – by hope… Atwood shockingly reveals what we could be capable of." (Elly McCausland Cherwell Newspaper)
"Compulsively readable" (Daily Telegraph)
About the Author
Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her novels include Cat's Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin and the MaddAddam Trilogy. Her 1985 classic The Handmaid's Tale went back into the bestseller charts with the election of Donald Trump, when the Handmaids became a symbol of resistance against him; and the 2017 release of the award-winning Channel 4 TV series. Sales of the English language edition have now topped 8 million copies worldwide.
Atwood has won numerous awards including the Booker Prize, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
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Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was in my TBR list since long. Thanks to one of online book club,I read recently and really amazed with it.
As it is well-known fact that it’s a story set in distant future in dystopian USA. Country’s President is killed and parliament has been dissolved. Army takes over charges of entire nation. It is not regular army but Republic of Gilead.Its totalitarian regime governed by men only.
Entire story is narrated by protagonist Offred through tape recordings.
Offred is Handmaid. She is thirty -three. Her only job is to breed. Offred is not her real name. In Gilead society, all the basic human rights and freedom from women is taken away. They become second citizens. They have been categorized into Wives and Daughters of Commanders,Handmaids,Marthas and Aunts. Their functions and clothes are fixed according to their category and strictly watched by Guardians. If they don’t follow their duties, they are either hanged on wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness.
Story begins when Offred is newly posted in a commander’s house. She lives with commander, his wife, two housemaids and driver of commander.
Offred continually remembers her past throughout the story. She has a husband, a five year old daughter, a mother and a best friend. What became of them, she does not know.
Handmaids are allowed to go for walk and grocery shopping once in a day in pair. Offred is paired with Offglen. At the begging both they pretend as real believers of Gilead but as time passes they realize they are haters. Offglen is belonged to underground network of rebels who help people to cross border and disappear.She eventually hangs herself.
As the story progress, commander asks Offred to spend some time with him during night in his cabin in his wife’s absence. They talk,play scrabble and he asks for goodnight kiss. On the other hand, as Offred is not yet become pregnant,so commander’s his wife asks Offred to conceive child through his driver, Nick. This one night stand turns into passionate affair with Nick. They are not in love but they make love every single night. But at the end, a black car of Guardians arrives at commander’s house to take her away. So why she has been taken away? Who has made call to Guardians? What become of Offred eventually??
As story is set in dystopia, it is obviously disturbing read. But I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was quite comfortable read for me unlike Disgrace by J.MCotezee which was not even dystopian novel.
Handmaid’s Tale is considered as modern classic. But unlike other dystopian classics, this novel is narration driven rather than plot.
Margaret Atwood had fascination towards dystopian set-up since her early days. She has read and great fan of Orwell’s 1984, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Huxley’s Brave New World to name a few.
Offred seems real character. She hates her present and wantsto escape but does not have courage. As she has only one job of breeding and she is being taken care of by housemaids, she has plenty of time to spare. So she observes her surrounding and takes notes in mind. She has sharp observation skills. She remembers each and every minor detail of her daily routine and memories from past. She makes love with Nick without guilt as she feels something humanly in it in that in-human world. She even tells her real name to Nick.
There are other characters but all are narrated through Offred. So we may not get their real persona. They might have come out as with different personalities if story would have been narrated in third person.
The strongest and best part about the whole book is flow of lyrical narration. Lyrics are sad yet beautiful. Once in a while,we come across such rhythmic narration in fiction.It never loses its pace for a moment during entire story.
Author has used so many fabulous illustrations ,metaphors to describe the pain and heaviness of situation.
“The newspapers stories were like to dreams to us, bad dreams dreamt by others. How, awful, we would say ,and they were, but they were awful without being believable. They were too melodramatic; they had a dimension that was not the dimension of our lives. We were the people not in the papers. We lived in the blank pages at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.” (Page 89)
The only part I did not like is its open ending.Author let readers to imagine the ultimate fate of Offred.It would have been great,if we could know Offred’s destiny.
After reading this book I felt so grateful that I live in a world where such things are only on papers!
So grab this book if you want to witness dystopian painting of pain painted by one of the greatest artists alive today.
TITLE: HANDMAIDS TALE
AUTHOR: MARGARET ATWOOD
GENRE: Contemporary Classic/ Dystopian
IF I COULD REVIEW IT IN A SINGLE LINE: Offered you wonderous yet unknown creature
Every once in a while we come across that has a very beautiful narration, a bang on plotline and an even better recommendation but it still just does not stick well. I’m sorry to disappoint you if you are of the many admirers of the book but it just does not my cup of tea.
The book is set in a near future dystopian alternative US which is governed by army, there is no president but a union comprising just of men and in this land the women are second citizens, the army is called Republic of Gilead.
Offred the protagonist who narrates the entire story is a handmaid, 33. Her only job is to breed, she is what remains of the only viable women in the state. It is her job, her duty, her virtue and her life. In this world women have no rights but rather are accessories I’d say. They are categorized as wives and daughters of the Commanders, Handmaids, Marthas and Aunts. They all have duties according to their faction and clothes according to their duties. They may either choose to abide or be sent to live beyond the perimeter in the land plagued by radiation. Offred is sent to live with a certain commander and his household, she had a daughter, a husband and a life; she remembers them fondly in her memories. Offred’s pair Offglen is her companion during visits to the grocery. She is part of an underground network of rebels but she eventually hangs herself.
The commander starts spending more and more time with Offred and they are eventually drawn toward each other; on the other hand as Offred hasn’t conceived yet the wife suggests her to do so with Nick which turns into a passionate love affair.
The last scene shows us Offred being taken away in a black van; what became of her we’ll never know.
Now for what I did not like about the book. I’ve always been a fan of contemporary fiction and hence picked this book up because of the hype surrounding it. I tried to but couldn’t fall in love with it. The writing style and presentation was a tad bit edgy and factual or rather cold and aloof for my tastes.
Everything else about the book was love. I loved the story; the climax and the beauty of a ending. The transitions between when Offred was in the present and when she was thinking of her past had me in and out of the sync of reading.
Cover: 5/5 (I own the beautiful hardcover edition of this book)
Writing and Presentation: 2/5
I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book for @thatbooknerdyouknow. This review is my own and hasn’t been influenced by anyone else.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
The world created by Atwood in The Handmaid's Tale is a world out of a feminist's nightmare- a world that reduces women to their reproductive ability. The world builds slowly and gradually, as the story unfolds, and you realise, slowly and gradually, how horrible this world is.
I fell in love with Atwood's style of writing. It's metaphorical, but not sugar-coated. Don't expect her to romanticise the horrific life that Offred lived; she's very straightforward. The prose is dark, quiet, rich with detail and drama bubbles under it.
This book will disturb you. It will haunt you. In the best possible way. The ending is obscure. You might immediately dislike the book when you get to that part. It might even annoy you. But, for me, it worked. It gave the book a sense of reality, that I expect from such a heavy theme. The story will stay with me forever, and so will Offred.