Handmaid’s Tale was in my TBR for a long time. Much has been said and discussed about this book. It’s a well-known fact that it’s one of the best dystopian novel. It’s story of Offred, a Handmaid. In this distant, dystopian future, things change. Handmaid’s job is to “breed”. Other women are also put in roles like Wives and daughters of Commanders, Aunts to train new batches of handmaids and Marthas for household work. Every woman has to stick to her category, dress and act according to it. They are not allowed to read, go out on their own and even talk freely. Their every move is being watched by Guardians who have the power to give death sentence to anyone.
This story revolves around Offred who is placed in a commander’s house to do her duty, breed. During this time, she meets Offglen, her partner for market visits who is also a part of a secret rebel group; Nick, her commander’s driver who is also helping her conceive and commander who is bored, sneaks her into his study room to play scrabble and talk. All these characters are presented from Offred’s POV, so we can’t be sure how they are actually as she keeps on changing /recreating stories as per her opinion. In the end, she is taken away by guardians in a black van but that leaves some air of mystery for us.
This was my first dystopian read and as expected, I was disturbed. Plot and narration are, no doubt, brilliant. But even thinking about such life disturbs me to the core, where people are treated as cattle and they don’t even have the freedom of voicing out their opinion. What disturbs me more is the fact that if not in totality, this is happening in fractions, here and there, every now and then. Handmaid’s Tale presents a world of nightmares with no human rights. It paints a picture of a worst possible patriarchal society where women are ignored and they struggle for their basic rights.
This multilayered, seemingly feminist dystopian novel will drain you emotionally and will haunt you forever. Once you read this, you can’t “unthink” what happens to Offred and others. Even though it’s a fiction, it comes close to reality in some parts and that’s a scary.
Nevertheless, for the beauty of narration and a unique plot, I will recommend this to everyone.
“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.”