Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Title: The Handmaid's Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publish Date: 1986
Source: Owned

What's the Story?:

From "Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now..."

My Two Cents:

"The Handmaid's Tale" is the classic dystopian story of a future where women have no choice of their station in life when it comes to reproduction. The population rate is falling rapidly and it is up to the fertile young women to repopulate this strange new country. Our heroine, Offred, is a handmaid for one of the commanders. She is forced to procreate with the commander or have to be moved on. Men hold all of the control in this world. Women hold nothing.

The last time I read this book was way back in high school. In light of current events, I had to pick it up again. I think it hit me even harder as an adult between watching all that is going on in the news lately and being a mother who got to choose when she became a mother. Not only is it reproductive rights that you think about reading this book but what really struck me is how Offred explains how this crackdown and paradigm shift happened: so slowly that they didn't realize how bad things were until they got really bad. While this is obviously an extreme version, it has a point about paying attention to the world around you and engaging before its too late to engage. The way that Offred explains this descent into totalitarianism is certainly sobering: there isn't one large event but many, many smaller events that add up to this new world.

It is no wonder that so many people are picking up this book now. It's definitely worth both a first and second look. Atwood is masterful at weaving an incredibly vivid story and world. This book has remained popular for good reason!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! I read this one several years ago and it still gives me shivers whenever I think of the attacks on women's health and reproduction. There's a reason it's hit the best seller lists again along with 1984 and Brave New World.


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