Monday, January 4, 2010

1 - The Handmaid's Tale; Margaret Atwood













Margaret Atwood's, The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel set in the futuristic Republic of Gilead, formerly the US, a place now run by a conservative Christian dictatorship.  It is here where the men are in charge, everyone is being watched over, and all offenders of ANY laws are prosecuted.

The narrator, thirty-three year old Offred, is a "handmaid". (a handmaid is a fertile woman whose life is one of isolation. She is forbidden associations with other men or friendships with other women). Previously, Offred enjoyed life with her husband and child. She use to have her own job, own money, and own interests.  Since she is presumed fertile, the new leadership has taken away her child, her money and she is being offered to the Commander of the government as a "handmaid" for the purpose of being him a child.  With birthrates declining dramatically, women are prized only for their fertility and their ability to reproduce. They are forbidden to work, own property or even to (GASP) read. If no baby is produced within two years these "handmaids" are sent to colonies for "unwomen".

MY THOUGHTS - Can you imagine such a scary thought -- women being stripped of their identity and having their existence justified by their ability to breed? Without giving away too much of the plot, I'll just say that there is even a monthly "ceremony" ritual that made me scratch my head in disbelief. How about a repressive society where order is maintained by terrorizing its people?  A chilling, but thought provoking read that drew me in from the very first page. I did not expect to enjoy this book, however by the end I was amazed at what an effect this book had on me...Recommended - 4.5/5 stars

40 comments:

  1. That is scary, but I do think there are some societies right now that only value women for their ability to reproduce. I guess reading that would really make you appreciate what you've got. Great review.

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  2. This is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE books and I pass it around whenever someone ask for a good book to read.

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  3. Brrr, this was my exact reaction to this book. Not at all expecting to enjoy it - I thought it was going to be heavy-handed and dull, but it turned out to be amazing. :)

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  4. I read this book long ago and have only vague memories of it. Except, I remember loving it at the time!

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  5. Kathy...I HEAR you and can recall reading a few books where that is proven to be true. (We are so fortunate).

    Nancy....I can see why you would pass this book around. It would make a great book club discussion book too.

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  6. really enjoyed this book also-it was my first Atwood-I will say the corporate world seems full of Aunties!-great review

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  7. I can't say that I enjoyed this book because it scared the *&$@ out of me...literally.

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  8. I first read this in the late 80's, and it's probably time to revisit it. Great review, Diane!

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  9. I've read this several times, the first time when it came out. This is a book that gave me nightmares.

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  10. Oh this is such a fantastic book isn't it? I loved it but it's been so long since I've read it. I'm sort of curious what I would about it now.

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  11. It sounds very thought-provoking. I have vowed to read something by Atwood this year, and I will. Thank you for a terrific review.

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  12. I really want to read this book, but never seem to get around to it. I am glad you and several commenters remark that it's not as heavy handed as it sounds. It makes me want to read it even more.

    Thanks for the review!

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  13. What scared me the most was that it wasn't hard to imagine at all :\

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  14. This is definitely one of the books I would like to read this year. I love the dystopian style novel.

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  15. I have this book...I have read so many good reviews about it...I always mean to read this book...I must move to the top of the TBR pile.

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  16. This one is on my must read list for this year. Great review!

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  17. This book is on my TBR list for this year. Great post, I'm going to have to push it to the top of my pile.

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  18. I read this one when I was in high school. I wasn't really a fan of Margaret Atwood at the time, having read only one other book by her, but this book I did like because I thought it was thought provoking and I've always had a soft spot for dystopian fiction. There are few Atwoods that I'd like to re-read, but this would be one of them!

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  19. I think this is a fantastic book - have read it twice - and wish there was more closure at the end, but of course there cannot be! I've felt that the stripping of identity was extremely close to what was done to the Jews in Nazi Germany.

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  20. I have this book. Planning to read it for the Women Unbound challenge. Wow, it seems from your review and the comments to get quite the reaction!

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  21. I loved this book! The scare factor for me was the fact that I found it horribly plausible. I've been dying to read more Atwood since reading this one several years ago!

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  22. I read this novel right after I graduated from college, and I thought it was amazing. And as kathy (bermudaonion) said, the chilling premise is relevant in some parts of the world.

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  23. I've been considering this book for awhile but always thought it sounded too over-the-top. But then I read and loved Oryx and Crake so now I'm inching closer to it. But I have to read The Year of the Flood first.

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  24. I read this book last year and loved it. It's the only Margaret Atwood book I've read and I want to read more.

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  25. Oh I am so glad you liked it as I have to read it for one for my challenges! It sounds very intriguing, to say the least!

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  26. I read this so long ago ... I suspect I didn't fully get it when I read it though.

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  27. Hey, Diane, I wanted to ask a question (and tell you that I've given your blog an award on my site".

    Is this book sexually inappropriate? I'm on the young side, and information like that is what I'm constantly looking for.

    Thanks!

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  28. This is on my reading list for the coming year. I'm getting the impression that it's simply a book that needs to be read.

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  29. I'm not sure how old you are (madeleinerex), but I think this book would be fine for a high school age student (my opinion).

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  30. This really was such a fantastic book, wasn't it? The movie is hideously awful if you have any plans to compare the two though so be forewarned. I only discovered this when I assigned the book for class and then we watched the movie version as well to compare the two. Not my best plan to come up with that idea before pre-screening the movie!

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  31. I always say I don't re-read books, but I do want to read this again someday. We read it in high school, so its been awhile...but it definitely left an impression!

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  32. All right. Looks like I need to push this book up my TBR pile. I need to read this. Soon.

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  33. That's a really creepy setting. Dystopian stories do tend to have a very powerful impact on their readers, not to mention a significant message to society.

    Compelling review :)

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  34. I read this book in college, and it freaked me out. Great book, though.

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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  35. I really enjoyed this book as well. It scared the dickens out of me. To think your only value is in if you can breed is a scary thought. We read this as a bookclub read and it definitely sparked quite a bit of conversation.

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  36. I really liked this book alot. It did creep me out. But so very very well done!!

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  37. As a woman in my 30's in the Boston area this book absolutely gave me chills when I read it last year. CHILLS. She was very effective in showing just how easy it could really be for the wrong forces to take over the world.

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  38. I read this quite a few years ago and loved it. I think the world that Atwood created was so frightening, yet so interesting as well. I have not yet read any other books by Atwood, though I do have a few on my shelf. If any of them are half as intriguing as this one was, I will be a very happy reader! I am glad you enjoyed this book and that it was so engrossing to you. Great review!

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  39. I've never read Atwood, but have been meaning to for years. I may start with this one.

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