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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 12+ hrs.
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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, narrated by Claire Danes, imagines a world not too far removed from where we are now — with the lack of cash and electronic transfers and the nuclear proliferation and antibiotic resistant diseases — but in this new United States known as Gilead, women are prohibited from holding jobs, having money, reading, and forming friendships. They are merely vessels through which children can be created, carried, and born, only to then be given to the households in which these handmaid’s reside. The handmaid’s are merely the vessels through which wives of the elite are able to have children following the devastating disease that renders many women infertile. Yes, it is only the women who are to blame for the infertility, which is why the men are permitted handmaidens with which to procreate.

Offred tells us this tale from the handmaid’s point of view, and none of the characters we meet have their own names, merely names that are adapted from the husband’s leading the households. To bear a child that is not deformed and is healthy is an honor for these women, but they also have very little freedom — forced to live inside the house, not form bonds with other women or men, and required to eat only prescribed foods and avoid all vices.

Engaging from the start, readers are thrust into this new world and forced to review their own freedoms. How could you become accustom to such a life and not fight it? Offred explains how it comes to pass and why the women remain in their assigned roles, but even in the darkness, there is a light — dim as it may be. Atwood’s Offred is a woman who is resigned to her role because she fears that harm will come to the connections from her previous life. She fails to take action many times because she views her inaction as protecting those she loves. But she also is hampered by her lack of knowledge and her inability to creep about and learn things when the house is asleep.

Danes narration of the book is spot on, and we can feel the emotions pour out of her words. She becomes Offred, she breathes her world, forcing readers right down into the darkness with her. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, narrated by Claire Danes, is a cautionary tale about extreme measures, but it also serves to remind us that when we are not looking extremes can become reality. It is our duty to be vigilant and stand up and fight before things go too far.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master’s degree from Radcliffe College.

  • iliana

    This is one of a few books I’ve actually read twice. Such a powerful story. I think this should be required reading in schools! I’ve heard good things about the series but somehow I’m not that drawn to it. Who knows, I may change my mind. Do you think you’ll watch it?

  • Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

    This is a very powerful and thought-provoking book. I’ve read it twice already and probably will read it again at some point.

  • I just bought the book because I had never read this story but always wanted to. Margaret Atwood was ahead of her time.

  • Ti Reed

    Everyone is reading this one again, partly because of the show on Hulu but mostly because of our current administration. Lordy! I have this on my Kindle and need to find the right time to work it into the mix.

    • I really couldn’t help listening to it on Audible. I’ve wanted to read it for a long time, just like Ulysses (which I’m still working on).

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I listened to this book too. It’s rather scary, isn’t it, because it seems that’s the direction we’re heading in right now.