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Thursday, March 16, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood @MargaretAtwood @audible_com #CanadianAuthor #Resistance

TITLE: The Handmaid's Tale
AUTHOR: Margaret Atwood
NARRATOR: Claire Danes
PUBLISHER: Audible A-List Collection
PUBLICATION DATE: July 20, 2012 (first published 1986)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 11 hrs
GENRE: Classics, Science Fiction/Dystopia
Audie Award, Fiction, 2013

Margaret Atwood's popular dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender and religious politics. Multiple Golden Globe award-winner Claire Danes (Romeo and JulietThe Hours) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time.

After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.

The Handmaid's Tale is part of Audible’s A-List Collection, featuring the world’s most celebrated actors narrating distinguished works of literature that each star had a hand in selecting.


It’s shameful that this Canadian girl has never read Margaret Atwood! I’ve had this classic on my TBR forever, and I’ve put it off for so long. I was thrilled to see a read-a-long for this book hosted by Michelle at Gather Together and Read, which gave me the push that I needed to finally take the plunge.

The setting of the story takes place in the future, following the collapse of the American government as we know it. The President was assassinated, and a group took over and re-branded the country as the Republic of Gilead which utilizes a dictatorship that strips women of their rights. They were unable to access their bank accounts or to hold a job. Any woman of reproductive age was forced to become a Handmaid, and her body is merely a vessel for bearing children. Handmaids are “owned” by leaders called Commanders and their infertile (older) wives, and their job is to act as a surrogate to the couple. To further emphasize that a woman no longer has any rights, the Handmaid’s are renamed “of” plus the first name of the Commander she serves.

The book’s narrator is Offred, and she describes the monthly ritualistic Ceremony that takes when she is ovulating. The sex between her and the Commander is not intimate or pleasurable. They both are fully clothed, with only her dress hitched up and his pants unzipped. There is no touching or kissing, and Offred lies between the legs of the Commander’s wife (also fully clothed) who holds the hands of the Handmaid while she watches the two engage in the act to ensure that no one is enjoying it! During a regular check-up with a physician, he suggests to her that the Commander is likely sterile and offers to impregnate her. Offred is tempted, because failure to become pregnant will brand her as an “un-woman” and she would be sent to the colonies (which are never really explained, other than to say that you wouldn’t want to end up there). However, it would be too risky for them both so she turns him down. Meanwhile, the Commander propositions Offred to secretly meet with him in his study.

Through flashbacks, we learn about Offred’s life before this new world. She was married to a man named Luke, and they had a daughter. They were attempting to flee the United States to Canada when they were caught. Offred has not seen either of them since. She assumes that Luke was killed, and her daughter was likely adopted by an affluent couple.

This book was better than I expected! With today’s political unrest, this book is just as relevant today as when it was written over 30 years ago! I really enjoyed Atwood’s writing, who describes in detail the brainwashing that the Handmaids are put through. She painted a very disturbing dystopian future for women, ruled by a tyrannical government. I cannot imagine living a life like Offred, and she handles it much better than I could! She wants to survive and will do it at whatever cost. I found the whole Ceremony with the Commander and his wife abhorrent and tantamount to rape. Even though she did consent, what choice she really have?!? Having the Commander’s wife hold her hands during the Ceremony made it seem even more like the act was being forced upon Offred.

This is my first narration by Claire Danes, and I thought she did a great job at conveying Offred’s different emotions. For example, we heard Offred’s spunky side during her secret meetings with the Commander and the pain in her voice when she wonders whether her daughter was told that she was killed. Ms. Danes had me totally engaged! However, she has an odd pronunciation of the word “mauve,” which I have never heard before. I actually had to rewind and listen again to figure out what she was saying! Here is a sample of the narration:

I can't wait to watch the television series, which is set to air in April 2017. I also plan to watch the 1990 movie starring Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, and Aidan Quinn.

4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR list if you enjoy dystopia!

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1 comment:

  1. I've heard so many good things about this book! I have it on my list, but just haven't made time to read it yet. I'm glad you found it worthwhile!


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