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The Handmaid’s Tale

(10 customer reviews)

by Margaret Atwood (Author), Claire Danes (Narrator)

Synopsis

Audie Award, Fiction, 2013

Margaret Atwood’s popular dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender, and religious politics. Multiple Golden Globe award-winner Claire Danes (Romeo and Juliet, The Hours) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time.

After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all-controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.

Cover Art by Fred Marcellino. Used with permission of Pippin Properties, Inc.

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About this book

Audio Format
11 - 12 Hours
Unabridged Version

Description

Audie Award, Fiction, 2013

Margaret Atwood’s popular dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender, and religious politics. Multiple Golden Globe award-winner Claire Danes (Romeo and Juliet, The Hours) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time.

After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all-controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.

Cover Art by Fred Marcellino. Used with permission of Pippin Properties, Inc.

10 reviews for The Handmaid’s Tale

  1. M D Tuch

    I realize that I am late coming to the ‘Handmaid’ party. It has been my intention to read it for some long time, but for some reason that I don’t fully understand, I was intimidated by the gravity of the book. I really wanted to be impressed, but Atwood’s view of a dark dystopian society left me depressed, confused and ultimately bored.I confess, I couldn’t finish the book. I couldn’t force myself to endure more than 115 pages peppered with complete and unnecessary gibberish. ‘If I have an egg, what more can I want?’ There are tons of this fluff.Atwood’s view of the future, and I assume that’s what I think we must consider that she intends, is poppycock. A nightmare with no beginning, middle or end. If this is what is in store for us, count me out.I was interested in a storyline or two along the way, but the author refused to develop them, instead droning on and on about meaningless details in the heroine’s life, or existence.I couldn’t go any further. My mind kept drifting to all the really entertaining stories out there, waiting to be read and enjoyed. Why was I wasting precious time reading tripe?

  2. Lindsey Schroeder

    ** SPOILERS **The surprising part, despite it’s lack of quotation marks and zero structure, I read this quite fast. I’m incredibly surprised this was written by a woman. I get she wanted to make this a creepy tale of what if and get all gritty and scary with this patriarchy having taken over, but why write this and go through this entire thing to not have the women rise up? Why not show the resistance, why not have them at least hint at the end that there was hope of them gaining freedom again? Why write this at all without an ending. Anyone who has read any of my other reviews or knows me at all knows that what I hate more than anything in any work of literature is no ending. To leave an open ended book is to say you want the reader to do your work for you. It’s a cop out to me. Why invest so much , build this whole story up and then not finish it? Drives me insane. Also I’m sorry but the quickness in which the terrorist attack and the new reign took over is a bit hard to swallow. Seems the author enjoyed trying to write the most cruel and unusual scenes in order to shock and terrify the reader instead of focusing more on the true story at hand. Just a big meh from me.

  3. Kindle Customer

    Very anti-religious,anti-men and depressing book. PBS had it in their top 100. I can’t figure out why. Would not recommend.

  4. misty

    I kept waiting for a story line to appear. I got so tired of all the detail in everything, but the story line. I was so disappointed.

  5. Marleen

    Nolite to bastardes carborundorumI’ve just added this title to my list of ‘extra special’ books, but somehow that label doesn’t fit right for The Handmaid’s Tale. Don’t get me wrong. It is without a doubt a fabulous work of fiction, superbly written, and with an unforgettable storyline. But ‘extra-special’ to me indicates something wonderful, pleasant. And nothing about this book can be described as pleasant. The words stark, horrific, prophetic, terrifying and too-close-for-comfort spring to mind.I read this book before. I think it may have been fifteen years ago. The story, for the most part, stuck with me. But, I have to admit that it could almost have been two different books—they certainly were two very different reading experiences. All those years ago I read a fascinating piece of speculative, dystopian fiction. Even then it felt all too plausible, but not in an immediate way.Re-reading the book now, given the political climate we now find ourselves living with, the story feels less speculative, almost less fictional. It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination anymore to visualize a scenario as we encounter in this book, unfolding around us in real time.“Ordinary is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.”There is so much in this book to scare a person witless. You read this book and you can imagine how it might happen, and worse, how it might swallow you up too. There’s an insidious quality to this story, making the outrageous borderline logical, acceptable even. I found myself reading certain sections several times, knowing that what I’d read was wrong, but having a hard time pinpointing exactly why or where. I’m not sure whether I’m impressed or horrified that this book made me understand how people get drawn in to, and learn to live with, a situation that’s against their personal best interest.“We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it. Nothing changes instantaneously.”But, think about it. In a time when humanity is threatened because fertility is down, doesn’t it make sense to mobalize those women who are still able to give birth? Just as countries have for centuries mobilized men (and more recently women) in times of war?“Already we were losing the taste for freedom, already we were finding these walls secure.”And that’s of course another worrying truth. While people may say they value their freedom, far too many seem to find comfort in being told what to do, think, and say. Humanity is supposed to stand out among mammals because of our capacity for independent thought, but all too often and all too many of us prefer to live without thinking too hard, happy to ‘follow orders’ without contemplating the consequences—for ourselves and for others.There was so very much in this story that horrified me and made me angry. But there was only one section that truly broke my heart: when Offred apologies, near the end of the book. Apologizes for acting on the need to connect with another.While I’m sad that the story doesn’t reveal what really happened to Offred, or even whether the end of her story is positive or negative, I do appreciate it was the perfect way to conclude the tale. An answer to the ‘what happened next’ question, regardless of what that answer would have been, would have robbed this story of much of its power. It is because the story ends the way it does that I found myself going over what I’d read and what I hoped/feared/imagined followed Offred’s tale.This is, without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is also among those stories that stay with me forever, because it is too unique, too shocking, and/or too thought-provoking to ever fade.

  6. SNAU

    Cannot figure out why this book is liked by anyone. I found it to be lame and written at junior high level.

  7. Amazon Customer

    There was so much great hype about the television series that I was eager to read the book. Very interesting story. But I was greatly disappointed that the ending was full of holes. The main character had to guard her every thought, yet the ending reveals the story is being told based on her diary. Even if she’d had writing materials, which she didn’t, she’d never have dared write down her thoughts and risk the results of exposure. Big let down.

  8. Denise

    Perfect last line to this book as I was left with so many questions at the end…the first of which was simply, “Huh?”.This book confused me. Given all of the hype around it, I was expecting much more from this book. It was decent and I can completely understand how it would translate well into a mini-series or movie…but I just couldn’t get my head around how/why things changed so quickly in society…over night, all women’s rights were taken away but there seemed to be little information as to who or why. I was further confused by tourists coming into Gilead…why were there fully functioning societies outside of Gilead that seem to have been unaffected by whatever caused this tremendous shift in US society. How could this have gone on for so long afterwards without a civil war of sorts breaking out. Without having more information of the total collapse of society and a little more longevity of what lead to the collapse, it was hard to buy into this tale.If I could buy into the collapse of society and the development of Gilead to save the human race, there just wasn’t enough information on how the Handmaids, the Aunts, etc were chosen, why they took healthy children away from their birth families and assigned the mothers of those children to other households for procreation…none of it made much sense. Also, what happened to the women in the colonies, the “unbabies”, etc.There was a great core to this story, just not enough detail to support any of it so I was very disappointed in the end.

  9. Thorn Cathedral

    I read this book in 2012. I remember because I couldn’t finish it in a week and I usually finish books that I like in a day — two days tops.So… I do not like this book. “Like”… what an ambiguous word… a word that usually links a reader’s internal reality with the reality of the book he or she is reading. If the realities are the same, then the book is “liked”; if not, then boo…. “Like” does not come close to define or describe this book. It is as if someone asks you to define an apple and you answer him that a pear is red.The book is pessimistic, pragmatic, cynical… it does not deal with the stereotyped fluff of a heroine triumphing over odds. It showcases the very brutal fact of a woman’s life when her rights are taken from her by a dystopian regime hell-bent on enacting their version of a fundamental theofascistic utopia… and in doing so, Atwood reveals to the reader how tenuous all civil rights, particularly women’s right, are when there are people harking back to some nostalgic past where everyone knew what was moral, and everyone was close to God, where men and men and women were women…So in effect, harking back to a past that never really existed, creating in the process a brutal present of enslavement where the very narrative used by the civil right movements is corrupted to suit the regime’s own ends… and to obfuscate the horror being done by them by describing their brutal action as necessity or morality in the face of some imagined depravity.So again I ask… did I “like” the book? Duly note that I am asking this question in reaction to some of the low star rating I’ve been reading on amazon whose gist of their commentary is that the book is too “unlikable”, too “depressing” and too sad.The horror! The horror!No, I did not like the book. The book is not Harry Potter or Percy Jackson — and for those readers who actually rated their book by how much it had “depressed them” or made them feel “pessimistic”, perhaps you should just read Harry Potter and forget about the Handmaid’s Tale.Now let me try again in describing this book while deleting the word “like” from my vocabulary.Does the book make you think? yes.Is the book gripping? yes.Does the book captivate you and engage your emotion? yes.Does the book make you realize some facts about life you’d rather not think about? yes.Does the book break the quintessential stereotyped novel and provokes you while doing so? yes.Yes, yes, yes. I did not like this book. I did not read this book to consume it as if it was my favorite jumbo pizza with two toppings of cheese… nor should you.So please don’t lower this book’s rating because the heroine did not win in the end or find her man or whatever… That the book was able to engage you, to make you think… that the “meandering” musing of Offred, which you did not like, found their way insidiously into your own mind and changed, if just a little bit, how you see the world, then the book is deserving of the highest honors.Otherwise…. …… ….. …… go read Harry Potter again.

  10. Sybil

    This book is not very well written and it’s boring. Other than the women being treated as breeding cows for entitled men in this futuristic novel, I didn’t get the message.

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