Review: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood




‘It isn’t running away they’re afraid of. We wouldn’t get far. It’s those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge’

Offred is a Handmaid. She has only one function: to breed. If she refuses to play her part she will, like all dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. She may walk daily to the market and utter demure words to other Handmaid’s, but her role is fixed, her freedom a forgotten concept.

Offred remembers her old life – love, family, a job, access to the news. It has all been taken away. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire.

I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about this book. Most people raved about it, but a few of my close friends said they didn’t enjoy it, which made me wary as I usually trust their judgement… THEY WERE SO WRONG.

This book is so important. Written back in 1985, the novel is set in a dystopian future America where women’s rights have been taken from them, and suitable women become the property of wealthy commanders with the sole purpose to breed. Anyone deemed not suited to the cause are either in hiding, or publicly killed.
It took me some time to warm to Atwood’s writing style, so for the first few chapters, I wasn’t really sure what was happening. The format is relatively episodic, switching between different time periods – we experience Offred’s current lifestyle, to then be back before the dictatorship took form in her “happier times”, and then to when she was at the school for the handmaid’s. Atwood doesn’t like to use quotation marks to pinpoint character’s speaking. This also took some getting used to, but as the entire novel is narrated from a voice memo recorded by Offred, this actually makes sense. But boy, when I grew accustomed to the narrative form, this book blew me away. It was truly stunning.
Even more important now with the whole Trump drama over in the states, women’s rights are slowly becoming more fragile, and where we have taken leaps and bounds fowards in the past few decades in terms of equality for women and sexuality, we now seem to be taking steps backwards, and so the world of this novel becomes frighteningly imaginable.
In the back of my edition of this book (Vintage Classics 2016 edition) is the backstory of how Atwood came to write the book, an at the end of this she states,
“I hope that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ will remain between it’s covers; that it will not become a reality. Any more than it already is.”ย 

Deep. But let’s face it, we all have to seriously hope for this right now.

But aside from it’s feminist outlook, this book is just genuinely brilliantly written, and it should be absolutely compulsory reading for anyone living in today’s society… so yes, everyone.

Can I also just say how brutally unfair it is that there is no way of seeing the new TV series of The Handmaid’s Tale in the UK?! If someone knows of some magic way of getting around this, please do let me know because I’m desperate to see it!

Saturday Night Live snl saturday night live season 42 snl 2017 GIF

View The Handmaid’s Tale on Goodreads


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