Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood

1986, 311 pages

Rating: 4.5

What a thought-provoking book!

Offred (Of Fred) is a woman who had her child and all her money taken away from her by the government. Her money was taken away just because she was female. Her daughter was taken away because her marriage was declared invalid. Why? Because it was the second marriage for her husband. The government has "religious" motivations for these acts. (Something I was a little uncomfortable with because I am a Christian, yet I realize there are always extremists. I took this as a cautionary tale.)

Spoiler alert! (Don't read if you like to be in suspense during a book.)
Things only get worse from there. She is forced to become a handmaid, or surrogate mother, for a man of high position in the government. However, the conception is to occur in the normal way--with the wife present! This was a little shocking to me! Somehow Atwood pulls this off without offending my prudish sensibilities. The life of Offred is certainly not enviable.

I found this book to be a jolt to my system. Atwood is a gifted writer, and I definitely plan on reading more of her works.


sage said...

i haven't read this, but this is the second review of it I've read in two weeks and I think it might be about time. thanks.

Kristin said...

The Handmaid's Tale is the book that started it all for me with Margaret Atwood. She is talented and her books just get better and better. May I suggest Alias Grace next? I think that's my favorite Atwood novel.

Chris said...

This was one of the scariest books I've ever read. I thought it was the best Atwood I've read so far.

Arukiyomi said...

Just coming to the end of my first Atwood actually - The Robber Bride. Finding it a bit forumlaic. Unless it takes an unexpected turn, I'm going to be a bit disappointed.

But this sounds like a wholly different animal. Thanks for the review. You've whet my appetite!

Mo said...

"The Handmaid's Tale" was the first Atwood that I read; I loved it, and now I luv her!! I also enjoyed "Alias Grace" and "Oryx & Crake" - all very different stories, but all wonderfully written.

Wendy said...

Thanks for your review at The Saturday Review of Books, Michelle - I just finished this for that challenge. I've put in a link to my review here ;)