The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood #BookReview

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Author: Margaret Atwood

Genre: Dystopian Fiction

Format: Paperback 324 pages

Release Date: 5 July 1996

Publisher: Vintage

I borrowed this book from my local library. 


Synopsis

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…


My Thoughts

I must confess to having watched the TV series before reading this book so I already had quite a good idea that I was going to enjoy the plot. Plus I really am a fan of most things dystopian if done well so this was always going to be a book that was on my radar. 

I really enjoyed the concept of this book in a way that was so totally unbelievably believable if that makes sense?! It seems so far fetched but at the same time has a tiny ring of ‘could this actually happen’ to it that I really was gripped the whole way through. 

Offred is a character I really got behind, especially as a woman. I found myself shocked and appalled at the things she has to endure and the training she went through with Aunt Lydia and couldn’t help comparing myself to her and thinking what I would be like and what I would do if I were ever in the same situation. 

The writing really drew me in to this book and I found myself immersed in the characters and the plot. This is one of a few books where I really could put my feet up and get lost in the pages for hours at a time. It didn’t take me long to finish this at all and now that the next book ‘The Testaments’ is out I shall definitely be looking to get my hands on a copy of that! 


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 the disempowerment of women, and with the 2017 release of the award-winning Channel 4 TV series. 

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. In 2019 she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

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