The Handmaid’s TaleMargaret Atwood
In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies?
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 only valued 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 tour de force.
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Gilead is as terrifying and complex as Oceana. If you want to be transported to a post-apocalyptic dystopian realm and spend some time thinking about gender and power structures read this book.
Beautifully written and easy to read but that doesn’t make it a comfortable story. Atwood weaves together several complex nonlinear plot lines around the main story, giving fragments of the narrator’s past, though never disclosing exactly how things became the way they are. Although I suppose it doesn’t matter how things became the way that they are. The narrator–I hesitate to call her Offred, because her real name was taken from her–lives a hopeless existence, and it’s unclear what keeps her going, other than memories of her past, or maybe a desire to share her story.
This book reads like a war memoir, it’s told from perspective of a woman telling her life story before and after a terrifying patriarchial takeover of society.
Even though the rules of the new society are really strange and bizarre, it feels really lived in and real.
It shows you how fast society can collapse and the way women can help eachother or hurt eachother for their own gain under patriarchy.