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A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

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Title of Book: The Handmaid's Tale

 

Name of Author: Margaret Atwood

 

Paperback: 320 pages

 

ISBN-10: 0099740915

 

ISBN-13: 978-0099740919

 

The Blurb:

 

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...

 

'The Handmaid's Tale' tells the story of Offred, (you never know her surname) a handmaid who lives in the Republic of Gilead, in the place that was formerly Massachusetts, in a world that has changed dramatically following a revolution, the world now has a new order and if you do not believe in that order you are either executed or sent to the 'colonies' where they are forced to work with radioactive waste.

 

Infertile is the main problem following the new order due to female scientists who, when they knew they were destined for the brothel or the "Colonies," cooked up and gave themselves a virulent disease that rendered all of their sexual partners permanently sterile, and then spread to all of their sexual partners, this eventually leads to the downfall of Gilead in the future.

 

Offred, which is not her real name, you never find out her real name but I think her name is June, Offred or 'of Fred' which means she is owned by a man called Fred i.e The Commander, because Offred had been married to a divorced man before the new order began and because she gave birth to a baby daughter in her previous life, Offred becomes a handmaid, her sole purpose being to produce children because the wives of the Commanders are infertile When the story begins Offred has arrived at Commander's House having previously lived with two commanders and unsuccessfully not becoming pregnant, this is her third and final chance of having baby, her reward if she has a baby, she will be not be sent to the colonies.

 

Offred is looked down upon by others especially the wives of the Commanders because of her role as Handmaid, and because of the new world order, they are now barracked in one area, not allowed to speak each other, can only go out with their 'shopping twin', who is also a handmaid. All handmaids must wear red and have their bodies and faces covered to stop men or women feeling desire. Sex has also become purely functionary, in the new world order there is no need for 'Love' or the idea of 'Falling in love'. As the story progresses we see Offred developing two relationships with men.

 

'The Handmaid's Tale' explores many different subjects, religion, the role of men and women, racism, fascism and infertility, Offred is quite a strong character but sad at the same time, she has lost her husband (who she believes is dead), her daughter (who has been adopted by a infertile couple), the only hope she has is that things will change eventually and also the hope that she will eventually become pregnant.

 

'The Handmaid's Tale' will give you something to think about, I found myself thinking whilst reading, if something like this happened, I would be off to the Colonies so fast with the rest of 'Unwomen' which infertile woman are call in the book, which I found very harsh, but in the grand scale of things, 'The Handmaid's Tale' is about survival, and unfortunately being not able to produce children is not good for survival.

 

What I liked most about the book was Offred's secret resistance to the new world, her thoughts concerning the Commander's wives were negative in every sense but I think they helped Offred to cope with her situation.

 

The book is not all doom and gloom, but it did scare me in parts, the need for children especially did strike a chord with me but the main message is hope, hope for the future for Offred.

 

I recommend this book highly.

 

Rating: 10/10

 

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Hey Paula! Thanks for the fantastic review! I can see it gave you lots to think about and want to talk about :blush:

 

It's one of my favourite ever books, so I'm sooooo pleased you loved it.

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Hey Paula! Thanks for the fantastic review! I can see it gave you lots to think about and want to talk about :blush:

 

It's one of my favourite ever books, so I'm sooooo pleased you loved it.

 

Thanks Amy, I am glad the review was ok, I really enjoyed the book, I love the style of writing, my friend recommended 'Alias Grace' and Oryx and Crake' both by Margaret Atwood to me the other day, so I am planning to invest in it, I can't help thinking, 'why didn't I read this book sooner'...:roll:

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Great review Gyre. I read this book years ago, but it is not a book that you ever forget.

 

It was the first book I had read by Margaret Atwood. I think she is a great writer.:blush: I think that Oryx and Crake is my favourite.

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Great review Gyre. I read this book years ago, but it is not a book that you ever forget.

 

It was the first book I had read by Margaret Atwood. I think she is a great writer.:blush: I think that Oryx and Crake is my favourite.

 

Thanks Rennie :roll:

 

 

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I've read The Handmaid's Tale twice - once at university for fun, and then again last year for my book club. I think it's a fascinating read, and quite frightening in that it what happens could so easily happen in real life.

 

It's not my favourite book, but is one that has made a huge impact on me.

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Am I allowed to say that I really did not like this book? It could've been for many factors which always have an effect on these things, but I just disliked it generally I think.

 

OK I can't really think of anything so maybe someone should give me a reason to like it...

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:) Of COURSE you're allowed to say that, Squawk! Not everyone has the same tastes in books - it'd be a boring world if we did, eh?

 

I'm actually about to start listening to the audio book of this...

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Who's doing the reading, Kell?
It's the Recorded Books version, recorded in 1988 and narrated by someone called Betty Harris (who has rather an expressionless voice, but I wonder if that's intentional for this reading?).

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It's the Recorded Books version, recorded in 1988 and narrated by someone called Betty Harris (who has rather an expressionless voice, but I wonder if that's intentional for this reading?).

 

It could be, in the book, Offred has to show no emotion and its her narrative, so expressionless works.

 

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It's the Recorded Books version, recorded in 1988 and narrated by someone called Betty Harris (who has rather an expressionless voice, but I wonder if that's intentional for this reading?).

 

Plus, have you ever heard Margaret Atwood herself speak? I love her but OH DEAR. She has such a flat voice! But she is a lovely and witty person, so perhaps she gets away with it. Perhaps.

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It could be, in the book, Offred has to show no emotion and its her narrative, so expressionless works.
I thought that might be the reason, in which case it works rather well!:)

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I too, loved this book. I've liked all of Atwood's books so far except Surfacing, I think the Handmaid's Tale is one of her top 3 with Oryx & Crake and the Blind Assassin.

.

I'll have to track down the audio book.

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I love this book. I read it many years ago (around the time the film came out, I think) and it's the only Atwood book I've read.

 

I found it very bleak and depressing, and it seemed to me that the scenario depicted could happen so easily. There are already parallels with modern-day society, such as the way women are treated in some cultures and how they are forced to behave and dress.

 

So, certainly not an enjoyable book, but very disturbing and thought-provoking.

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I've looked at this book many times at Border's, but I think I'll have to get it now, or at least put it on my wish list. I've never read Margaret Atwood before.

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I've read The Robber Bride, which I enjoyed. I have The Handmaid's Tale on my tbr pile, and want to read it soon.

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I've never seen the film, but I'd rather like to, I think!

 

Anyway, here's my review of the book to add to the others:

 

Title: The Handmaid

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