Title: The Handmaid's Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 1985
Genre: Adult, Dystopian
Length: 324 pages
Governor General's Literary Awards for Fiction (1985)
Man Booker Prize Nominee (1986)
Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (1986)
Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction (1986)
Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel (1987)
Commonwealth Writers' Prize Nominee for Best Book in Caribbean and Canada (1987)
Prometheus Award Nominee for Best Novel (1987)
CBC Canada Reads Nominee (2002)
Audie Award for Fiction (2013)
The Handmaid's Tale is not only a radical and brilliant departure for Margaret Atwood, it is a novel of such power that hte reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men of its population.
The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment's calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid's Tale is
funny, unexpected, horrifying and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.
I'm sure most everyone has heard of this book at some point, possibly more recently thanks to the Hulu television series. It's been on my radar for years but I never felt the absolute need to read it until recently. I'm glad I did, but I must admit that this book had such a negative impact on me while reading it, and because of this I will keep this review short. It was disturbing and triggering and horrible, but I hesitate to say that because it wasn't the book itself that was horrible but more so the possibility that the content could actually happen in some form or another. This is the first dystopian novel that I have read that seems all too believable.
I did not enjoy this book but I think I could reread it again in a different light, perhaps many many years from now, hopefully when women's rights aren't as threatened and I can come back to this as a thought-provoking read instead of a horror novel.
My Rating: 4 stars