The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This week's book review was written by the Book Review Blog’s co-host Nicole Menard. Miss our last book review? Check it out here: Sweet Spot. Happy reading!

The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood

Fiction | Dystopia | Feminism
Audience: General adult

Book Blurb from Goodreads:.
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...

Nicole’s Review:
Immediately dropped into Gilead, the reader meets “Offred”, and begins the journey through a dystopian future. The new society weaves racism, sexism, and religious ideologies into a suffocating fabric of cultural suppression. Plagued by the inability of Caucasians to procreate, the Gilead society utilizes religious interpretations to create a system that is centrally focused on using certain women for pregnancy. Women who meet the criteria for a “handmaid” are sent to an abusive refinement camp to procure their compliance. Women who do not meet the criteria are distributed into different sectors of domestic life. Historical rules of oppression such as: not being allowed to read, socially communicate, fear, and punishment, exists to maintain order. The societal structure is oversaw by men but intricately maintained by women. We are woven through the streets of this regime by the eyes of a handmaid.

Becoming engrossed in this novel isn’t difficult. Often the characters, circumstances, and settings encourage speculation. If the reader is looking for an escape into the foray of symbolism and appropriation this novel delivers.  Page after page the prose delivers the opportunity to be swept away into a world of commodity driven oppression. Sound familiar?

The popular acclaim of the novel is not without merit but functions as a disservice to the reader. So much has been made of this novel by certain people with specific ideologies that it proves difficult to find the pages with fresh eyes. The interference of popularity brings another level of questioning to the words. Sometimes it presents a different perspective then superficially presented. Other times it stains the image the prose seeks to create and blurs Margaret Atwood’s vision.

Did you enjoy “The Handmaid’s Tale” book or Hulu show? Try these:
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Blindness by José Saramago
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess