Handmaid's Tale / Edition 1

Handmaid's Tale / Edition 1

4.0 1176
by Margaret Atwood

ISBN-10: 0771008554

ISBN-13: 2900771008558

Pub. Date: 05/08/1999

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.

It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a…  See more details below


It is the world of the near future, and Offred is a Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, had a job of her own, a husband and child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.

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McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
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Canadian Edition

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The Handmaid's Tale 4 out of 5 based on 3 ratings. 1176 reviews.
constantreaderML More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this book. Period. Take it as a warning, of what CAN happen in the U.S., if religious extremism is allowed to infiltrate our society, and if Church and State don't stay separate. And keep in mind that Atwood took the social/political circumstances in the book from real situations that have happened or are happening somewhere in the world. The writing pulls the reader in, and even though the subject is terribly depressing, you just can't quit reading it. Now that I've finished it, I can't quit thinking about it. I want to read about it, and talk about it, and read more by the author. But I won't read it again for a long time, because it's plausibility is just too disturbing. Any author who can instill such strong emotions in her/his readers is a very talented writer.
andrewlin More than 1 year ago
To categorize The Handmaid's Tale as another feminist piece of literature would be inaccurate, as it is really more. Like other novels that present visions of the world in the future, The Handmaid's tale imagines a dystopia that is all at once surreal and convincing, just as Orwell's 1984 or Huxley's Brave New World are. Though Offred's condition may appear unrealistic or even absurd at a glance, as the novel unfolds, Atwood reveals social circumstances shockingly real and in fact similar to our own.
FARIEQUEENE More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book over a decade ago on a break in between classes while I was at school and bored. I remember vividly reading the entire book in a day and re-reading the book so often that when I purchased my nook last December, "The Handmaid's Tale" was the first book I bought. Atwood's glance at a sexist and distopian society is terrifying and the book makes a strong statement about what happens when the state has too much control. The Red Dresses and Blue Dresses haunt me til this day, and yet I read the book over and over again when I cannot find anything else to tempt me.
ReadingQueen12-17 More than 1 year ago
This story is extraordinary.chilling, but extraordinary. As with all of her books, Atwood as a canny ability to insert the very basics of human nature into the most outrageous and horrifying of environments, which is essentially what makes this book believable. I challenge any reader to keep the chills at bay when they come to the part of the story where it is explained how the United States is overtaken by a group of religious fanatics and the world as we know it is mutated to a dystopian hell.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had never heard of the book, and chose it simply because it had good reviews. I was lost in the beginning - it took me a while to realize it takes place in the future but when I did I found it startling. The author has a unique style that keeps the reader enthralled. It was a refreshing change from much of the fiction I have been reading.
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is a novel of dystopia set in the near future. In the tale, women are now commodities. They are not allowed to read or gain knowledge in any way. They are not allowed to make conversation with each other. Sex is for reproduction only, not pleasure. They have a job to do and if you happen to be a Handmaid, like the protagonist in this novel, then your job is to get pregnant by the Commander under whose roof you live. Our protagonist lives under a man named Fred so her name is Offred (Of Fred). Throughout this tale she remembers a time when she had her own name, her own husband to make love to, her own daughter to nurture, her own job and money....but those days are gone. She describes in pieces how the government in America changed to the totalitarian Republic of Gilead and how many people, her husband and daughter included, tried to escape it. This novel is chilling and gloomy. Offred describes her life as a handmaid in a dispirited and dejected way. The book is compelling though and thought provoking.
Guacamole More than 1 year ago
Presenting a truly frightening view of the future, Margaret Atwood's novel describes a totalitarian regime oddly reminiscent of Hitler's reign. She creates a world in which no one dared speak against the unreasonable demands of an evil government. Subjugating women to secondary roles in society, Atwood presents herself as an unorthodox feminist writer, whose intent is unclear. While the novel warns against a possible fate for humanity, Atwood leaves the conclusion ambiguous, and readers may interpret it as one of two extremes: salvation or destruction. Paralleling people to lifeless objects, Atwood uses frightening images to define the characters by the roles they play in society. Through the dehumanization of faceless victims, she portrays a society in which any dissent is a sure-fire ticket to a humiliating death. Equating Salvaging victims to scarecrows, she implies that those killed for misdeeds were punished publically as deterrence for potential rebels. Emphasizing the anonymity of victims, this comparison diminishes the executed criminals to mere tools used at the discretion of the government. Thus, Atwood crafts a world modeled after her fears and warns the world of potential dangers. While I personally was extremely disturbed by the content of this book, I respect it as an honest work and a call for reform. Despite its unwelcomed implications, The Handmaid's Tale brought to light issues facing today's society that are commonly overlooked. The idea that time does not equate to progress is manifested in this novel, as Atwood suggests a future similar to the most horrific pasts. As Gilead oppresses its citizens to fear defiance, truth gradually fades to oblivion, as no one dares speak against the government. Those awaiting death sit "like graduating students who are about to be given prizes" and do not protest at all. Such an illustration arouses concern for the future of our society, as we wonder if humanity is headed for the described fate.
divideByZero More than 1 year ago
Can any religion, when taken to its logical conclusion, be anything other than a fundamentalist trap of self delusion? Does censorship help anyone? Freedom to or freedom from ... This is a great book. Buy it and read on ... you won't regret the decision.
Lynie More than 1 year ago
THE HANDMAID'S TALE is not a new book, having been published in 1985. I finally read this very intense and disturbing book by Margaret Atwood and I'm glad I waited. Ms. Atwood's tale is almost a blueprint of how severe changes to our very existence could actually occur. It's a good lesson for us to all protect the freedoms we do have and reminds us to not be so quick to jump on the bandwagon of anything that lessens any one else's personal freedom. Just as women all lost their jobs and access to any of their finances and basically became chattel of the men in society in THE HANDMAID'S TALE whether they were wives, handmaids or Marthas you could just imagine how quickly it could happen. THE HANDMAID'S TALE is a powerful and frightening book and if you haven't read it, you should. Lynn Kimmerle
Linda_K More than 1 year ago
I love science fiction and future fiction, and this is one of my favorite books of all time. The story about the handmaiden who has been separated from her family for the sin of not being married, who is used for her known ability to procreate, who is a prisoner in her own country, is both entertaining and thought provoking. Margaret Atwood is a master when it comes to weaving an interesting story, and excels at telling it. Now that I think about it, I think I'll read this book again! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More adult than young adult. Definitely for the conspiracy theorist anti big brother crowd. Cautionary tale, anyone?
CR-Buell More than 1 year ago
I don't know if I've ever been more powerfully affected by a novel than I was by this one. Offred (meeting Ofglen, and it finally dawning on me how the Handmaids are named, was a stunning moment) is so beautifully and painfully rendered; she is a fully human character. Atwood gets inside her head, and Offred becomes real, in a way few characters ever do. From the beginning we are dropped into a horrifying near-future in which all women are subjugated to one degree or another, and Handmaids are on the bottom rung. As the story unfolds and the past is slowly revealed we become more and more horrified, because Atwood shows us how this all came about, and it doesn't seem all that far-fetched. One of the more profound aspects of this book (for me at least) is that Atwood doesn't only focus on the plight of the Handmaids, who have it the worst, but also shows how others have been affected by these societal changes. The Wives, who occupy the highest social rung amongst women, at first seem to be part of the problem; they have freedoms other women can only dream of, and exercise power over women of lesser social standing. But life's not good for them either; they're still not allowed to read, work, own property, or make decisions about the direction of their lives. They are the property of their husbands. And even most men don't have it all that great; lackeys to the great and powerful, forced to follow a strict social doctrine, not allowed to make many of their own life choices, and if they step out of line, just once, just a little bit, they're publicly executed as traitors. That Offred, despite her own suffering, is still able to sympathize with others, who all have it better than her, is deeply moving, and ultimately a sign of hope. Some people seem to have a problem with the prose in this novel. To those people I say, don't ever read Garcia Marquez, Pynchon, or Joyce. To everyone else I say, forget what your 9th grade English teacher taught you, this prose is stunning. If this novel was written as a straightforward narrative it wouldn't be anywhere near as powerful; the stream-of-consciousness prose is what makes this novel so affecting.
lorabele More than 1 year ago
Great story that kept me wanting to read more and more. Loved it. Then it just ended. No ending really at all. No idea what happend. HATE THAT. What a cheap way to end a great story. Would never have read it if I had known.
grammarpanda More than 1 year ago
I liked that this was written as a sort of memoir/diary, but wasn't divided into daily entries that make reading more staccato. Like so many of my favorite oral history/memoir style fictional future dystopia novels [which is an awesomely specific yet diverse genre:], Atwood doesn't take much time here to explain how things have come to be the way they are, giving just enough in the way of allusion and event timeline to keep the reader from feeling frustratedly out of the loop. We are given to understand that there has been a catastrophic and widespread change in the fertility of women and viability of fetuses, and that as a result women of confirmed or potential fertility are being conscripted and shuttled from home to home as 'handmaids' - one of the three functions now for wives. Handmaids are intended an entirely for non-romantic procreation role, and bizarre loveless sex rituals have been enacted as part of a regular 'ceremony'. The nameless narrator is independent and self-reflective enough to engage the reader and bridge the gap between the common experience of contemporary romance and the dystopian future world, but not the sort of spunky derring-do heroine that becomes grating in novels of this ilk for their casual dismissal of a totalitarian regime previously established as very dangerous by the author. I loved the conclusion to this book. At first I thought it was horrifically unsatisfying, but after reading the epilogue I was more willing to embrace the point at which Atwood chose to leave off the narration. Every unexpected plot twist in this book drew me deeper in, and while it wasn't a can't-put-it-down book, it was a more engaging read than the other two I was reading at the time
Bonnnniieee More than 1 year ago
Margaret Atwood, in The Handmaid¿s Tale, creates a dystopian world where equality is unknown and the truth is concealed. The risk of betrayal, the fear looming in all under the regime, instills a sense of excitement where one¿s heart stops and breath is held while the story gradually unravels. Alongside the appealing plot, Offred is portrayed as a woman whose words are full of contradictions. Irony looms in every page as Atwood highlights the fear stirring inside every handmaid, in this case Offred.
The plot is simple, a female portrayed as similar to an object and a possession, coerced to live under a government who manipulates the world. In a sense, women were blinded from reality as they were constantly fed deceit in a way that forces them to believe what is given to them. Whether they truly agreed with the regime was completely dependent on who she is. In this novel, we see the development of Offred from a girl who only does what is necessary and hides in fear to a woman who utilizes strategies to endure in a world where truth is unknown. However, irony becomes apparent in her method of survival as her notion of freedom is just another way to pull her back into the hands of oppression. This is due to the fact that her ultimate goal is to become fertile, but in reality by doing so, although seemingly liberation-like, it is only another method for Offred to remain under the slavery condition and in the prison-like situation. By having a child, Offred is indicating her acceptance to the false reality the government reveals to her. Her consideration of a way out is technically a way in. Her form of salvation is ultimately damnation.
By having a substantial amount of controversy evident in this novel, Atwood enables a deeper implication, a mystery, and a method to confuse yet appeal to the readers. Alongside the satisfaction of discovering the irony, there is also puzzlement of what is truly in Offred¿s mind. This novel rich in enigma enables us to continue reading in hope to unravel the secrets behind each and every line.
Although the plot may be straightforward, by it being accompanied with mystery the story evolves into one where questions are proliferating and answers are left awaiting. The excitement is truly alluring and I applaud Atwood for a story remarkable in its ability to enlighten and its style.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Gripping tale. Margaret Atwood's best work, and inspiration for many dystopian novels to follow.
Drewano More than 1 year ago
I’ll preface my review by saying that I couldn’t get through “The Handmaid’s Tale”. The whole idea of the way the society is structured was just too ridiculous for me and coming from someone who likes zombie books that’s saying a lot. I enjoyed the way the book jumped between the present and giving glimpses of the past, but getting more than 50% through the book and not really knowing what happened to make the world transition was annoying. Also through the first half the author does a good job of putting you in the story but the story doesn’t really move anywhere. I was going to continue through and finish it but then I realized I don’t like the books so I should spend my time reading something I would actually enjoy.
KayME More than 1 year ago
I was expecting something different. There were so many questions left unanswered. I finished the book just to finish it. Don't waste your money.
skyride More than 1 year ago
Atwood is a really wonderful writer; she is good at turning the mundane into something captivating. However, I'm not sure science fiction/dystopian futures are her strong suit. Dystopian futures are not the mundane, yet she chooses nevertheless to focus on the mundane aspects, which can be a bit of a bore at times. Her writing is poetic and lovely, but given the genre it often feels overly verbose. Periodically I would come across a chapter or paragraph or sentence that struck me as brilliant and wonderful; more often than not it was too much mystery and buildup for too little pay off. That being said, I would still absolutely recommend this book. The very concept is so disturbing that it deserves to be explored and pondered over. Not Atwood's best work, but still a work deserving of attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A cautionary tale, fascism comes in the hand of religious fundamentalism and capitalism, a Theocracy can be of any religion. Women are easy targets.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. I could not put it down. It has been almost a year since i finished reading it, but i still think about it. It really stuck with me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reminded me of 1984 and Brave New World, but refreshing from a woman's point of view. It was hard for me to picture the woman as a mid thirties year old woman. I kept thinking of her as early twenties. I feel like this might resemble how some religions/cultures treat women... so to think of it as a far fetched story is wrong. I enjoyed reading it even though its depressing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The handmaids tell is a great book. It most definitely gives you an insight into what the women in the Republic of Gilead had to go through. They were being subjugated and used as tools for birthing. Offred who is the main character, uses detailed imagery to express what she had to go through while being a handmaid in the house of Commander Fred and Serena. She was sent there after being seperated from her husband and child, and because she was proven fertile when tested. The women in that household weren't able to speak to each other, or do anything really. The only private place they had was their thoughts. It shows some extremist Christian beliefs, and so some people either really love it or hate it, but overall I would definitely recommend this book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What happens when the government is taken over by a religious sect...mayhem for women under the guise of "tradional values".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading this was depressing and captivating at the same time. I couldn't put it down but it is an absolutely horrifying book to read. It had to be a five star read for how much it drew me in and the feelings it provoked.