Author : Margaret Atwood
Published By : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Year Published : 1985
Genre/Tags : General Fiction, Modern Classics, Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Mood : Dark and dreary, Cautionary Tale, Mysterious
Formats : Paperback, Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
# of Pages : 344 pages
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…
I had very mixed emotions and feelings overall toward this one. It took an eternity for me to become “comfortable”, in a sense, with the writing and style, but this really isn’t a novel to be enjoyed in the traditional sense.
The main character Offred is miserable, confused, and thoroughly defeated. She’s a lot to take in but sympathetic in context. I kept comparing the goings-on to George Orwell’s 1984 and finding most aspects lacking in comparison, but the fact that I was thinking to 1984 as this novel’s closest association is a highest compliment.
The world building is interesting, if a struggle to consider plausibly. While the overarching plot is a bit much to suspend disbelief for, there are many stunning, haunting moments that are relatable to some of the current (current as in 2019) erosions to progress.
I’m not a fan of Atwood’s writing here (though it may just be the dragging point-of-view of Offred that I found challenging to grapple with) but I’m very eager to try out other adaptations of this storyline.
As a story and allegorical concept, The Handmaid’s Tale is highly thought-provoking, persistently relevant, and triumphant overall. My feelings range all the way from 1 to 10 for this one, but overall higher marks for its consistent overall value in the here and now.
Overall Rating – 7.5/10
Why You Should Try It – Highly thought-provoking subject matter and world building. Some poetic passages open for interpretation. Hauntingly relevant in some ways, even several years later. Has some other adaptations (a graphic novel and the popular Hulu tv series) to check out.
Critiques – I didn’t care for Offred’s personality, though I could fathom her motivations. The writing style ended up not being my type, though I’m open to more from this author. Mainly full of great ideas and less great execution.The Handmaid’s Tale (Amazon Link, Click Here To Read A Preview.)
Have you read this book or are interested in reading it? Please feel free to share your thoughts, I read and appreciate all your likes and comments. Thanks so much for reading my review!