Monday, April 16th 2012

Review: The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood.

Publisher: Vintage Books
Publication Date: July 5, 2007
Received From: Bought
Page Count: 324
ISBN: 9780099740919

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred ony one option: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like all 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.

Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception.

Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ was the second selection chosen for the book club I attend. Despite it being often labelled as a modern classic, I must admit that I hadn’t heard of it or read anything by Atwood before. I was intrigued to start reading…

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a dystopian novel that follows Offred, a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead.It is set in a society in the future where most women are either slaves or breeders. Offred is a breeder and has to sleep with her assigned commander once a month, with his wife present. Her only hope is that she gets pregnant. Offred had a life before her only value was her ovaries. This is the story where her old life blends with her new one. Is there any hope for Offred?

While reading ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ what struck me the most was how scary it was. It isn’t part of the horror genre and there are no monsters lurking in dark shadows. It was the realisation that the society presented within the book is one that could easily happen. It’s a terrifying society where women are not allowed to possess anything. They cannot have a job, money and they are forbidden to read and write. It is definitely a scary world to live in for a woman to be a part of and that is what affected me the most about this book. Despite my horror, I felt compelled to read on. I wanted to know more about the life Offred used to live and the life she has no choice but to live now.

Atwood’s writing style was great. She effortlessly blended the narrators past and present narratives  in a manner that didn’t feel forced. It all flowed together and this is what I probably admired the most about the book. However, apart from that, there was nothing else that stood out for me. I appreciate that there will be readers who will love this book. Yet for me, there wasn’t much that made me stop and think “this book is amazing”. I am still glad I decided to read it though. Perhaps in the future I might return to it and gain more from the experience of reading it than I have now.

One Response to “Review: The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood.”

  1. Isa says:

    I’ve heard amazing things about this book and I’ve been interested in reading Margaret Atwood’s writing. I’ve heard that her style can put people off sometimes but the synopsis of the book is both scary and intriguing. It’s sad that the book didn’t stand out to you but I’d love to read it. Thanks for sharing. :)

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