The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

What a chilling and enthralling dystopian future Margaret Atwood has imagined in this novel! The main character, Offred is a “handmaid”, a woman who has been forced to serve in the household of a high ranking infertile couple as a surrogate. She remembers a “time before”, when she was married with a child. In the time before, women were allowed to have jobs, bank accounts and the ability to read. But, a strange dictatorship has taken over the United States, re-named it Gilead, and delegated women to second class citizenship “for their own protection”. 

This book was scary, good scary, and felt more relevant than one would expect a thirty two year old dystopian book to be. It stuns and enthralls me because many of the things that happen to Offred have happened at some point in history or are happening to women somewhere in our current world. Unlike other similar novels, the events felt grounded in reality to the point that one could imagine them actually happening.

I did have one critique of the book, I didn’t very much like the epilogue. I felt the story itself ended perfectly and didn’t need defining. The epilogue added an unfinished, disjointed kind of feeling to the end of the story. I would have liked to either see it expanded more or deleted entirely. Other than that, however, I thought this novel was fantastically done. I have heard a few people talk about disliking the vagueness of the story, wanting more backstory into how Gilead was formed and why. But, to me the lack of detail is what allows the story to be so relatable and time tested. This isn’t a story about a specific evil form of government or religion, it’s a story about how ANY government could come to treat its people, how citizens in ANY time or place could be treated, how they have been treated by many different forms of government.

The Handmaid's Tale Book Cover The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood
Science Fiction, Dystopian
Anchor Books
1985
Available in hardcover, paperback, audio and ebook formats
312

In Margaret Atwood's dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of Gilead's commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive. At once a scathing satire, an ominous warning, and a tour de force of narrative suspense, The Handmaid's Tale is a modern classic.

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