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The Handmaid's Tale

Atwood, Margaret Eleanor (Book Club Kit - 1985 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Handmaid's Tale

Item Details

Authors: Atwood, Margaret Eleanor, 1939-
Title: The handmaid's tale
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, c1985
Characteristics: 10 books (324 p. ; 24 cm.), 1 reading guide, 1 DVD
Notes: Kit contains 10 copies of the title
Kit checks out for 6 weeks and cannot be renewed
Replacement for kit is $170.00
Awards & Distinctions: WCLS Books in a Box
Statement of Responsibility: Margaret Atwood
Subject Headings: Man-woman relationships Fiction Misogyny Fiction Women Fiction
Genre/Form: Fantasy fiction
Topical Term: Man-woman relationships
WCLS Book Club Kit
Reading group books
LCCN: 86129018
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The Handmaid's Tale is a first person account of the experiences of a young woman, Offred, who is placed into the society for the sole purpose of breeding. As the title itself suggests, it is written thoroughly in the perspective of Handmaid, who lets us see the petrifying Republic of Gilead through her encounters. Offred critiques this corrupted society and relates to the reader with justified views about to what extent to which the government controls its citizens subconsciously. The Republic of Gilead is experiencing a population downfall in the age of declining births; therefore only women with viable ovaries are valued. Meanwhile others are emplaced in a horrific hierarchical system that only treats them as objects and property of men. In such a dominating society, standard of living comes down to, sexuality, gender and race. This book is creatively written as well as thought provoking about the importance of feminist role in society. Vivid flashbacks to life before the dictatorship reveal problems that are easily identifiable with those faced today, with debates about abortion, women's rights, and religious fundamentalism. The author did a great job is writing this novel where she took feminism to such an extreme that it became an anti-feminist novel. This book predicts the upcoming of a society, not too far in future, where humans are treated with minimal respect and only freedom from the past is what keeps the hope alive. It seems hard to imagine a sudden transition in our modern society to such a backwards and flawed system, but as the author herself describes the genre of the novel as 'speculative fiction', it is a warning against the danger of those holding extreme power.

Aug 22, 2012
  • Jordan63 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

The news events these days reminded me of this book.

Aug 21, 2012
  • peterbryan rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed this first person narrative and thought Atwood did a good job of bewitching the reader in a believable dystopia occupied with credible and rich characters. She's a skilled story-teller. However, I craved extra details on what led to the current situation / formation of this bizarre society. She keeps these details scarce and we focus on our lead character which is of course where the action is.

I wasn't "hopelessly" spellbound and rarely found myself rereading text so as to wallow in the prose but still, it was an enjoyable read if not an entirely bizarre story. I was also just a little let down by the final chapter.

Jun 17, 2012
  • bonjourhola85 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This first person view of a dystopian future is chilling and yet, intriguing. The information is unfolded in bits and pieces and that much more exciting because of that. Margaret Atwood does well in writing each character's actions and motivations under such a different world system than our own. A great read.

If you liked this try Sherri S. Tepper's "Gibbon's Decline and Fall." Similiar in the "scariness" of a very possible future that we all hope does not happen, but very well could given the current state of affairs in our neighbor to the south. Both books are a rallying cry for women to stand and fight for our rights and even our very lives. Tepper's book is billed as Science Fiction but has very little "alien" content - unless you find misogyny alien.

Jun 15, 2011
  • Iridollae rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A haunting example of a dystopian novel-- a stark, poetic diction, and a plot often scattered back and forth through time really accentuate the feeling of hollow emptiness throughout it.

Jun 10, 2011
  • KatieJo rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is the scariest book I've read in a long time- not for violence or gore, but for the knowledge that the events described could possibly happen. Atwood is a genius at showing how small events caused the U.S.'s fall into a dystopian 'Republic of Gilead.' You will feel the walls closing in around you as you read the story. It is not a happy book, but it is well-written and important. It is a book for adults, but older teens would be able to read it with some help.

Feb 28, 2011
  • BakerStreetIrregular rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The first book set in a dystopian society that I'd ever read. At first I found it rather depressing but I quickly became engrossed in the story, particulary Offred's plight to escape her new life in the Republic of Gilead.


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Jun 12, 2011
  • Iridollae rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum


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