Monday, November 2, 2009

The Handmaid's Tale - Book Club Read

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So this evening I finished The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I have read this book before but I suppose I had forgotten the details because I felt like I was reading it for the first time.  I could only sort of remember what was going to happen next so when the story unfolded it was like reading it anew!  I had to read this one for my book club and I am sure that it will encourage a lot of discussion because of the controversial nature of this story (I will post the outcome of the discussion next week after our meeting).  I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Margaret Atwood.  I feel that she is a very important writer in literary history and I went through a time when I owned all her novels (even her collections of short stories) but I started to really dislike her writing style after reading about 6 or so of her novels.  Sometimes she would capture my attention and her writing (The Blind Assassin)was organized and easy to read and other times I felt she rambled and there was no point to the story she was trying to tell (The Robber Bride).  The Handmaid's Tale was one of the stories that I could fallow without boredom and while the ending isn't really satisfying, the story as a whole does make sense.

In The Handmaid's Tale we are introduced to a society that has taken hold after the fall of The United States.  A new government takes power and they are totally and staunchly biblically based.  Women loose all their rights including the right to read the written word, and they are kept as possessions of the men either as Wives, Handmaids (birthing machines), or Marthas (servants).  This book is the story of one Handmaid named Offred (a name given to her meaning possession Of Fred), it is told from her point of view, and it is the story of her life as a first generation Handmaid in the new land of Gilead.  Because she is a first generation Handmaid she remembers life as it was before the fall of the U.S. so it makes it much harder for her to adjust to her new life as a Handmaid her "Commanders" house.

I remember enjoying this book a lot when I read it the first time and I feel the same about it now.  It really is interesting to see a glimpse into society once life as we know it is over. Could these things really happen?  Would we as a society let them?  Maybe stories like The Hunger Games, The Handmaids Tale, and The Giver are a warning to us all.

Book vs. Movie:  There is a movie version of The Handmaid's Tale but judging by the pictures I have seen online it looks like a movie I am going to miss.  It was made in the early 90s and it doesn't look too promising.  If someone were to make a newer version of this movie I would absolutely go see it, just for a more visual idea of what Gilead and the Handmaid's looked like.  There is also an Opera about The Handmaid's Tale and I think that would be very interesting!

The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 978-0-385-49081-8

If you liked this book than read:  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


  1. I heard lots of great stuff with this book. I'm meh with Margaret Atwood. I heard negative stuff about her books and then some good stuff. I might give this a try since I like books with a dystopia theme to it. Good review.

  2. I loved this book! We had a book club discussion on it a few weeks ago and there were so many conversations that stemmed from it! I did see the movie, it just so happened to come and cable and I DVR'd it knowing I was reading the book and it's actually not that bad!

  3. Tameka thanks for your opinion on the movie. Maybe I will check it out after all. I looked on YouTube for a clip and it did look OK.

    Thanks for the comments!

  4. Wow, that sounds really interesting! Seems like I'd need to be in the mood for that sort of story though because it might anger me. :)

  5. hey, just found your blog through 20sb. I read this book recently and thought it was quite interesting! i didn't know there was a movie though...I think I might need to check it out, if only to see how they have done it!