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The Handmaid's Tale [Kindle Edition]

Margaret Atwood
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,362 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Handmaid's Tale is not only a radical and brilliant departure for Margaret Atwood, it is a novel of such power that the 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.



Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In a startling departure from her previous novels ( Lady Oracle , Surfacing ), respected Canadian poet and novelist Atwood presents here a fable of the near future. In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right Schlafly/Falwell-type ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist's nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the "morally fit" Wives. The tale is told by Offred (read: "of Fred"), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be. This powerful, memorable novel is highly recommended for most libraries. BOMC featured alternate. Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

'The Handmaid's Tale is both a superlative exercise in science fiction and a profoundly felt moral story' Angela Carter 'Out of a narrative shadowed by terror, glam sharp perceptions, brilliant intense images and sardonic wit' Peter Kemp, Independent 'The images of brilliant emptiness are one of the most striking aspects of this novel about totalitarian blindness...the effect is chilling' Sunday Times 'Compulsively readable' Daily Telegraph

Product Details

  • File Size: 510 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 038549081X
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (February 17, 1986)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003JFJHTS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,142 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
400 of 424 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plain good literature December 30, 2000
Format:Paperback
I have read "The Handmaid's Tale" a number of times, both in English original and in Croatian translation (a pretty good one). First time I read it, it was because I have found it in a library of a Women's Study Centre in Zagreb, Croatia, so I expected it to be "feminist literature", and was therefore a bit cautious about it, thinking it would be some kind of pamphlet for women's liberation. Of course, I did not know anything about Margaret Atwood back then. First thing this book taught me is that M. Atwood is, above all, a great author, and that "The Handmaid's Tale" is a piece of plain good literature.
The somewhat circular narrative centres around and is being told from the perspective of Offred, a woman living in Republic of Gilead, the dystopian, future theocracy established on the teritory of today's United States of America. Gilead's government is organized by a group of very specific religious fanatics, basing their theology on a couple of chapters from the Old Testament, specifically the story about Sarah, Abraham's wife, who could not bear children, and therefore had given Abraham her handmaid, Hagar, to concieve children with her. Also written in that chapter is God's command to Hagar to completely submit to her mistress, and Abraham's observation that Sarah is to do whatever she pleases with her handmaid.
That is the point from which the treatment of handmaids is derived in the Republic of Gilead. As the increasingly polluted land caused infertility withing majority of women, the fertile ones, especially those who have been either married to divorced men (theocracy of Gilead does not recognize divorce), or single, but not virgins, are taken as "handmaids" to be awarded to high ranking families without children.
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168 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atwood's Masterpiece October 26, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"I wish this story were different. I wish it were more civilized. I wish it showed me in a better light, if not happiness, then at least more active." So says master writer Margaret Atwood regarding her tour de force, The Handmaid's Tale. Set in the present-day Massachusetts of the future, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is the chilling portrayal of a totalitarian society as told through the eyes of a Handmaid named Offred. Offred, who can remember the time when she had a home, a husband and a daughter, now serves as a "birth vessel" and is valued only for her powers of reproduction.
Offred (her name was derived from "of" and the name of her own Commander, "Fred") is forced to live her life in a new dictatorship called the Republic of Gilead. Offred is allowed to leave her Commander's home only once each day; her freedom, like that of other ordinary civilians, has been stripped from her and she exists at the mercy of the heads of state who are known as the Commanders.
The Republic of Gilead, however, is a society in the midst of crisis. Its land and atmosphere have been polluted by nuclear waste and all but a handful of the population has been rendered barren. Those infertile women, women who will never, or never again, reproduce, are known as "Unwomen," and are sent to the Colonies where they must toil as laborers with no privileges, working to clean up the nuclear waste. The only exceptions are the infertile Wives of the Commanders. Women lucky enough to still retain their fertility, like Offred, are considered a treasured "object" of society and one whose role is to bear children for the Wives of the Commanders who cannot.
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301 of 350 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What if this really happens? June 3, 2002
Format:Paperback
The Handmaid's Tale - by Margaret Atwood
THE HANDMAID'S TALE is a frightening look at a not too distant future where sterility is the norm, and fertile woman are treated as cattle, to produce children for the upper class who cannot have any. The narrator Offred, as she is called in her new life, is the Handmaid for a top Commander in the new government. Once a month she is tested by a gynecologist to ensure that she is healthy, and then is taken to the Commander and his wife in the hopes of becoming pregnant.
Offred, along with the other handmaid's, are not allowed to look directly at anyone else. They all wear the same outfits; red long dresses and headgear that cover their bodies. They live together, spend most of their time together, and are taken care of, in the hopes that they will produce children for this barren society. In this society, most women are not allowed to read, and are treated as if they have no minds. The government dictates their role in society. If they disobey, they are punished severely.
Offred's memories often go back to a time when she was happily married to Luke, and with their daughter they were looking forward to a long and happy life together. Things changed when a military group took over the government, and immediately their lives as they knew it were over. Women lost all rights to ownership; bank accounts were frozen, land was taken away; fertile women were taken away from their husbands and families. A handful of older women were made into `Aunts', and their duties were to instruct and guide the handmaids, reminding them of their role on this earth, which is to procreate.
I have to say that my feelings during this book were of shock.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Very different and interesting beginning.
Unfortunately, it did not come to fruition in my opinion. I didn't dislike it completely, it kept me turning the pages. It was just lacking over all.
Published 18 hours ago by Amy R Arden
1.0 out of 5 stars waste of a day
I couldn't stand the prose. It wasn't lyrical or poetic, it was choppy and irritating. Plus I couldn't find it in myself to feel anything for the main character. Read more
Published 18 hours ago by a. ann
4.0 out of 5 stars The End?
I loved this book and found the language musical. I read it after my daughter's friend recommended it to me. Read more
Published 1 day ago by OwlThingsFirst
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth your time
Very taxing to read. Unless you've seen the movie, you don't know what's happening until you're halfway through the book. At the end, I literally wanted to throw my Kindle. Read more
Published 1 day ago by VicG
4.0 out of 5 stars Does this review sound a bit too dystopian?
A sudden jolt to the established social order is a real possibility today, the summer of 2014, with increasing political unrest and rising wealth and power of fundamentalists in... Read more
Published 3 days ago by diverbetty
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very Satisfied
Published 4 days ago by Servando
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
This will stick with me. It was beautiful and haunting. It made me see freedom and safety in a new light.
Published 4 days ago by Carlotta
1.0 out of 5 stars The Handmaid's Tedium
This is the complete review as it appears <a href="http://ianwoodnovellum.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-handmaids-tale-by-margaret-atwood. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Ian Wood
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointing read
I would not recommend this book. The situation and details about the new way of life portrayed in this book were very sketchy. Read more
Published 5 days ago by book club member
3.0 out of 5 stars This is an extremely disturbing book, but worth reading ...
This is an extremely disturbing book, but worth reading. It takes the fundamentalist vision to its logical conclusion. Read more
Published 6 days ago by kathryn kasper
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More About the Author

MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

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Sequel
I'm sorry, but there's no sequel. I would have liked a more clear-cut ending, too, but evidently we're supposed to draw our own conclusions about whether people were being honest with her, and if any happy ending was possible. (I find that Margaret Atwood is a repeat "offender"... Read More
Jul 11, 2009 by Cherry Ophelia |  See all 2 posts
Welcome to the The Handmaid's Tale forum
SPOILER ALERT -Read the book first please...

This discussion is aimed at those who read the book and need to talk about it. It was so chilling... Atwood's tale is masterful and haunting and very relevant.

As it unfolds we continually question- what is going on? Why is everything topsy turvy?... Read More
Apr 15, 2012 by TCMG Rillo |  See all 7 posts
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