Monday, September 6, 2010

#34 The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale (Everyman's Library)I'm not usually into dystopian or sci-fi-esque type books. It's just not my thing but I highly enjoyed Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid Tale. This book takes place in a not so distant future type setting called the Republic of Gilead, which pops up after a takeover of the US. The Republic is a religious type of government who was disturbed by the prevalence of sex and promiscuity and takes over, removing the rights of all women and even declaring war on opposing religious sects.

Handmaids are the women who were proven to be fertile and who have been collected and assigned to high ranking men and their wives to be a surrogate mother of sorts. The women must produce a child in order to prove their worth as a woman and keep themselves from being sent to 'the colonies', a toxic, disease riddled, shanty town where they send undesirable people to die.

The handmaid from the title is given the name Offred, one of the first handmaids, and the book follows her story in a jumbled narrative as she struggles with her current position and is haunted by her memories of the past, before the republic took over.

This book was a bit disturbing to read but I was still engrossed. The women are all treated as inferior, as commodities and it disturbed me, though I believe it is supposed to. If it doesn't, there is something wrong with you. However, despite the subject matter bothering me, I couldn't put it down, I was far too intrigued in her story. The ending was a bit abrupt and that sort of ticked me off but I had to admit that it was appropriate within the context of the book. There is a strange little epilogue that attempts to to clear a few things up but not much.

I highly enjoyed the book and would recommend it.


Roberta said...

Don't know if you knew it but they made a movie back in the 80's or 90's about this book with Robert Duvall and Fay Dunaway as the lead characters. It made me think of the religions that have multi-wives...very disturbing indeed.

IngridLola said...

One of my absolute favorite books ever. It was disturbing in the best kind of way, I think. Although, I don't think the movie did the book justice at all.

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