The world is so crazy lately that you may not have heard about how award winning author Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Which was written in the mid-eighties) has surged in popularity yet again.
(This will explain the sudden rise in red dresses and white hats you see around the world in everything from protests to online memes..)
Most recently, a television series based on the novel has taken over the airwaves (I have yet to see it… I am a ‘book first’ kind of person) and with everything going on around the world and in politics, this story is stirring up a lot of hype.
Before I go any further…
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 days 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….
Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and literary tour de force.
Honestly… at first I felt that I was reading something slightly pretentious and dull. It didn’t take long before that feeling was gone, and I could not put the book down. You will notice as the story unfolds- that you bounce back and forth between past and present, it twists together to tell the story of the woman we come to know as ‘Offred’ (which is her new ‘name’ in this day- her real identity is unknown)
The Handmaid’s Tale really fueled a lot of emotions in me.
When I read- I try to picture myself in the novel, living the situation- I like to become ‘at one’ with the character and really try to understand their perspective.
While reading the story of Offred’s life as a Handmaid and where her society has gone, I really struggled with how I would personally feel if that was happening to me:
How would I handle living in this transitional world from Modern Day Woman to nothing but a mere object with no rights? To be a Handmaid- someone who doesn’t even have the right to use her real name, in a world that has decided to go backward? To be forced to have these awful rituals with a Commander and his wife to try to create children for them?
(Let’s just say that it wouldn’t go over well with me…and leave it at that!)
If you are familiar with my book recommendations, you know that I do not like to post spoilers… which absolutely makes me grit my teeth as I write this. I want to spoil it for you. I want to discuss in depth what I consider an incredibly tragic and terrifying society. I want to highlight passages and draw the parallels between the author’s speculative fiction and today’s real life political climate- but as I do not like to spoil the book for anyone- I am saving that for another day.
(Know that I am actually working on an essay.. whether I go about publishing it on here or not is another thing… I will see how it turns out!)
While I typically blow through a novel in hours, I took my time with this one, mainly because at times it made my skin crawl. The subject matter was something I wanted to digest slowly and at times I had to force myself to put the book down and stop simmering.
The events that go on. The religion. The shocking turn of society. The misogyny, and of course the downfall of the modern woman in a world of which I am glad I do not live in.
Move over Friday….TGIF now means ‘Thank God It’s Fiction’
The women (and it just seems to be women so far) that I have discussed the novel with, we all are in agreement- It’s a frightening read.
Some loved it.
Some hated it.
Most agree that The Handmaid’s Tale while fiction, is certainly an eye opener. I am waiting to hear from my guy friends what they thought of it!
I highly recommend picking up a copy- and I do look forward to seeing how the book translates onto the screen. I personally think that this is a novel that everyone should read. I have made a decision that I will gift my daughters The Handmaid’s Tale in the future. I want them to read it, digest it and let it fuel their passion for being strong independent modern women.
For More Information Please Visit Margaret Atwood’s Website: http://margaretatwood.ca/
I would love to hear your thoughts on the novel or even the television series in the comments! Please make them spoiler free– as I will moderate them to make sure they do not contain spoilers!
**If this doesn’t sound like it is a book up your alley… check out my other recommendations by viewing the Book Recommendation Category on the right menu**