The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

Paperback - 2017 | 2017 Emblem edition
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#1 New York Times bestseller

In this multi-award-winning, bestselling novel, Margaret Atwood has created a stunning Orwellian vision of the near future. This is the story of Offred, one of the unfortunate "Handmaids" under the new social order who have only one purpose: to breed. In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred's persistent memories of life in the "time before" and her will to survive are acts of rebellion. Provocative, startling, prophetic, and with Margaret Atwood's devastating irony, wit, and acute perceptive powers in full force, The Handmaid's Tale is at once a mordant satire and a dire warning.
Publisher: Toronto :, Emblem, an imprint of McClelland & Stewart,, 2017
Edition: 2017 Emblem edition
Copyright Date: ©1985
ISBN: 9780735253308
Branch Call Number: FIC ATW
Characteristics: xviii, 358 pages ; 21 cm

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c
coolpup
Oct 24, 2020

The hype was better than the actual story. It's a time passer, which is about the best thing I can say about it.

h
heliak
Oct 23, 2020

As a woman raised in Iran reading this book was very hard and constantly brought back painful memories. I had to get up and take walks or drink water at points while reading this book simply because flashbacks were too painful. I don't think a typical Canadian woman knows how close to reality this book is and will dismiss it as a purely dystopian fiction.
I recommend reading this book to any woman and I will tell them that a variation of events that happens in this book could very easily become reality one day. It happened in my home country; one day women had the right to choose their outfit and engage in any social activity that men participated. Three months later all of that freedom was gone and the ruling regime's ideal role for women was to be buried at homes never to come out and just produce and raise kids and satisfy men!

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emilyhart66
Oct 05, 2020

If you found yourself holding your breath while you turned pages and felt like The Handmaid's Tale was just a bit too apt for our time read It Can't Happen Here. Remember -- nothing Atwood wrote about in The Handmaid's Tale was really fiction. It has all happened in some form in some place at some time. You have to decide for yourself if it will happen here.

l
L_Sanga
Sep 27, 2020

This was nearly a DNF. It was frustrating to read. I'm not a fan of Atwood it appears. I read this purely because I wanted to read the sequel, I can't see that happening any time soon.

s
Sean_Exon
Sep 16, 2020

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel about a totalitarian patriarchal society in Cambridge, Massachusetts in The Republic of Gilead formerly known as the United States. In Gilead, women were stripped of all rights. Their sole purpose was reproduction. High ranking official couples that could not have children were assigned handmaids to conceive with the husbands so that the couple could have children. This novel is about Offred, short for Property of Fred, her life as a handmaid for Commander Fred and his wife. Before she was a handmaid, she, her husband, and their young daughter were caught escaping to Canada. Her husband was captured and never heard from again. Her young daughter was taken away by another woman. Offred was forced to become a handmaid. She often recalled the freedom she enjoyed before Gilead, her best friend in college and her family. It was a stark contrast from the totalitarian government she lived now.

This is a powerful book about human rights or lack thereof under a totalitarian government. Even high ranking officials like Commander Fred and his wife who supported the government seemed to seek freedom. The commander kept a private library while books were outlawed. His wife, a gospel singer before Gilead banned music, often hummed a melody when she thought no one was listening. No one could trust a neighbor or a friend because that person could be a spy for the government. It is disheartening that totalitarian government still exists and that there are many people who still live in an oppressed society today.

a
Anirudh_Kannan
Aug 21, 2020

The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel that follows a totalitarian state where women are deprived of all of their rights (read, write, own property or handle money). The main character, Offred, is one of the only remaining fertile women. Therefore she is forcibly assigned to produce children for the "Commanders" or the ruling class of men. The rest of the women are classed socially and are forced to follow a strict dress code.

The Handmaid's tale explores themes of subjugated women, and the various means by which women resist and attempt to gain independence. However, due to the explicit sexual content, this book is not suitable for people under the age of 15.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Aug 05, 2020

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a funny, unexpected and horrifying story based on a female servant in the Republic of Gilead, Offred. Since this novel was so frightening and powering at the same time, it emotionally drained me. The handmaids present in this story have no free will, nor do they have any individualism, as if they are all treated as simple baby producing machines. Atwood does a great job of portraying women without power, and I feel this is still a topic that people need to educate themselves on. Even in this generation, I don’t quite understand why individuals find it so hard to normalize women in position of power. The Handmaid’s Tale shows that if we were to follow the chauvinist views of the old testament with fierce intensity, it would be sure that women would have no power at all. These views would be reinforced by complete cultural destruction, as well as lack of any form of self-expression. In this story, women are not allowed to read or write, not being able to speak their minds. Women are controlled in a way where they are forced to forget their pasts and put an end to any sense of personal affection. It was like an election, where sexism won, and women lost. It was disturbing to read about all the experiences Offred had to encounter, which is what made the novel so perceptive, provoking and dire. I would encourage anyone to give this one a read because you will be impressed! 4.5/5 stars
@Bookland of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

After continual recommendation, I decided to read Margaret Atwood’s famed The Handmaid’s Tale, a modern dystopian novel that simulates a society where women especially are categorized into separate roles, all of which are subservient to men. Offred is a 33-year-old woman who was once married with a 5-year-old child before the totalitarian government was formed, known as the Republic of Gilead. Offred is a Handmaid, a role that deems her a state-approved sex slave to an important man that she is assigned to. Her job is to act as a surrogate of sorts and conceive a child, as births rates have declined in Gilead. Told through the perspective of Offred, readers become familiar with the constructs of Gilead and the experiences of Offred. The Handmaid’s Tale is different from usual dystopian novels as the main character’s ulterior motive is not to escape or find a way to defy the rules of her government as an act of rebellion. The Handmaid’s Tale is an individual story of Offred, no one else, and her personal perception of the society. Atwood’s novel is a refreshing change from the monotonous sci-fi and fantasy books that flood the shelves. I give this book a 3.5/5 star rating and recommend it to readers ages 15+ as there are a lot of sexual descriptions and references.
@ilovefood of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

m
mnack_0
Jul 15, 2020

I read this book mainly because I had heard so much hoopla about the TV series (which I never saw). I suspect this is one of those instances where the TV adaptation - due to a talented team of writers, actors, producers, etc.. - is better than the book. Atwood makes an interesting case for how it can happen that a traumatized - apathetic? - people allow their government to take away their freedoms. Particularly pertinent in today's post-911 (and now COVID-19!) environment. Interesting that Hollywood waited over 30 years to adapt it to the big screen. Probably a story in itself.

s
sadie5_88
Jun 27, 2020

Did not read on tv

d
dirtbag
May 20, 2020

I am probably not the best person to review this book. I have not liked anything that Atwood has written since the Edible Woman. Back then she had a sense of humor.

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Quotes

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c
CAnder14
Oct 11, 2020

Pg. 463

Humanity is so adaptable, my Mother would say. Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.

c
CAnder14
Oct 11, 2020

Pg. 411

"Well officially," he says. "But everyone's human, after all."

I wait for him to elaborate on this, but he doesn't, so I say, "What does that mean?"

"It means you can't cheat Nature," he says. "Nature demands variety, for men. It stands to reason, it's part of the procreational strategy. It's Nature's plan." I don't say anything, so he goes on. "Women know that instinctively. Why did they buy so many different clothes, in the old days? To trick the men into thinking they were several different women. A new one each day."

"So now that we don't have different clothes," I say, "you merely have different women." This is irony , but he doesn't acknowledge it.

"It solves a lot of problems," he says, without a twitch.

c
CAnder14
Oct 11, 2020

Pg. 392

With that man you wanted it to work, to work out. Working out was also something you did to keep your body in shape, for the man. If you worked out enough, maybe the man would too. Maybe you would be able to work it out together, as if the two of you were a puzzle that could be solved; otherwise, one of you, most likely the man, would go wandering off on a trajectory of his own, taking his addictive body with him and leaving you with bad withdrawal, which you could counteract by exercise.

If you don't like it, change it, we said, to each other and to ourselves. and so we would change the man, for another one. Change, we were sure, was for the better always. We were revisionists; what we revised was ourselves.

c
CAnder14
Oct 11, 2020

Pg. 391

The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.

And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done; and you would know too why your friends had been evasive about it, at the time.

c
CAnder14
Oct 11, 2020

Pg. 380

We've given them more than we've taken away, said the Commander. Think of the trouble they had before. Don't you remember the singles' bars, the indignity of high school blind dates? The meat market. Don't you remember the terrible gap between the ones who could get a man easily and the ones who couldn't? Some of them were desperate, they starved themselves think of pumped their breasts full of silicone, had their noses cut off. Think of the human misery.

c
CAnder14
Oct 11, 2020

Pg. 366

Better never means better for everyone, he (The Commander) says. It always means worse, for some.

c
CAnder14
Oct 11, 2020

Pg. 340

Knowing was a temptation. What you don't know won't tempt you, Aunt Lydia use to say.

c
CAnder14
Oct 11, 2020

Pg. 338

But she (Aunt Lydia) knew too the spiritual value of bodily rigidity, of muscle strain: a little pain cleans out the mind, she'd say.

c
CAnder14
Oct 11, 2020

Pg. 334

What the commander said is true. One and one and one and one doesn't equal four. Each one remains unique, there is no way of joining them together. They cannot be exchanged, one for the other. They cannot replace each other.

c
CAnder14
Oct 11, 2020

Pg. 282

You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have.

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Age Suitability

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s
Sean_Exon
Sep 16, 2020

Sean_Exon thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

a
Anirudh_Kannan
Aug 21, 2020

Anirudh_Kannan thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

s
steven_hahn
Jun 01, 2018

steven_hahn thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

b
blue_cat_16312
May 18, 2018

blue_cat_16312 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

j
jmli
Jan 28, 2018

jmli thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

j
jjwoodard
Jun 01, 2017

jjwoodard thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

c
csrestall
Jun 01, 2017

csrestall thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

e
eparti
Mar 29, 2015

eparti thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

EuSei Jan 25, 2013

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

s
Saralovebaig
Nov 28, 2012

Saralovebaig thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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Notices

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c
csrestall
Jun 01, 2017

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Hangings and group lynching

c
csrestall
Jun 01, 2017

Sexual Content: Explicit sexual scenes

c
csrestall
Jun 01, 2017

Violence: group mob attack section

Summary

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c
csrestall
Jun 01, 2017

Offred lives in a society where women are valued purely for their ability to reproduce because of rampant bareness caused by radioactive materials. Offred is one of the handmaids who are forced to procreate under the direct supervision of their commanding 'wives'. Offred had a family and a child of her own which were taken from her when she was forced to become property. All aspects of her life are controlled on pain of death. Things start to spiral downward when her Commander (baby daddy) starts speaking to her outside of the prearranged time he promises her glimpses of her old life. She is also forced into a sexual encounter with one of the servant men after her commanding wife feels the commander is incapable of getting her pregnant. She continues on this relationship even though she is afraid of being found out. The book ends rather abruptly when Offred is taken away in a van which is known to dispose of rebellious handmaids. It is implied that her lover helps her escape although it is ambiguous.

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