The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwoodfive-stars

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
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Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on February 17, 1986
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Sci-fi
Pages: 325

Heat Rating: half-flame

Source: Amazon
This book may be unsuitable for people under 18 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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The Handmaid's Tale is not only a radical and brilliant departure for Margaret Atwood, it is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men of its population.

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment's calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid's Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.

Timely and Disturbing Reread

I read this book as a young woman, and now again at age 50. Having just finished the book, there is a pit in my stomach that could be described as a crater. I’m already a bit afraid in today’s world, and with recent events, I now believe Gilead could be made a reality today, even with this and many other cautionary tales.

I’ll have a book hangover for quite a while, trying to decide for myself the fate of Offred. What became of her? Margaret Atwood makes her so real to me, I care about what might have happened to her.


About Margaret Atwood

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

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