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The Handmaid's Tale

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  509,939 Ratings  ·  21,487 Reviews
In this multi-award-winning, bestselling novel, Margaret Atwood has created a stunning Orwellian vision of the near future. This is the story of Offred, one of the unfortunate “Handmaids” under the new social order who have only one purpose: to breed. In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred’s persistent memories of ...more
Audio CD, 2 pages
Published December 28th 1988 by Durkin Hayes Audio cassettes (first published 1985)
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Petra In all honesty I read this book when I was 13 and didn't find it difficult to grasp. People belittle the intelligence of middlegraders. If a middle…moreIn all honesty I read this book when I was 13 and didn't find it difficult to grasp. People belittle the intelligence of middlegraders. If a middle grader is interested in the book he is old enough to understand and grasp the meaning. If he isn't ready he will left the book unfinished.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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UPDATE: 4/3/16

Trump. That is all. Discuss.

UPDATE: 6/30/14

Today SCOTUS did the abysmal act of allowing Hobby Lobby to break the LAW and deny women contraception because of their religious obejections.....Welcome to Theocracy Americans. Tea Party, Taliban, Taliban, Tea Party. Who can tell the difference?

Give me a fucking break! Soooo much bullshit here people.

1. Contraception is not mentioned in the bible. So, how can this be a religious objection?

2. Women's contraception will not be covered, but
Dec 04, 2007 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(edited from a paper I wrote in college about the book)

In 1986, when Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale, Ronald Regan had declared “Morning in America,” and society was going to renew itself by returning to the old values. The Christian right, in its infancy at the time, was rising in reaction to the Free Love, and the horrors of AIDs. The 1984 election gave us Willie Horton, and a reminder about how violent and evil society had become. Finally, even though Chernobyl happened shortly
Aug 04, 2015 Pollopicu rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I guess Atwood doesn't believe in quotation marks.. I don't think I've ever come across a novel yet in which there is no distinction between the narrator and the character. It took me quite a while to get used to that type of style of writing. I had to go back and re-read sentences again and again, which doesn't really lend itself to a relaxing reading experience, and it slowed me down quite a bit..

First 100 pages:
Really annoying..why? well because I felt like a juicy bone was being waved in fro
Jan 15, 2016 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's been almost five years since I wrote my review. I've rewritten large parts of it for clarity. The main idea remains the same.

Extremist Judeo-Christian beliefs have won America's culture war. Now women have no rights. They are slaves to men and the biblical, patriarchal society in which they live. The Handmaid's Tale is the first-person account of one of these enslaved women.

Massachusetts Turns Into Saudi Arabia?
More than thirty years have passed since The Handmaid's Tale was first publish
Emily May

There are only a small handful of books that have affected me in a REALLY personal way. In a way that I always try to put into words and always, ultimately, fail. I have read a lot of books over the years and I've liked many, disliked plenty too, loved and hated a smaller amount... but out of the thousands I've read, there's less than ten - maybe even less than five, now I think about it - that honestly hit me so hard that I would go so far as to say they changed me.

The Handmaid's Tale is a book
Consider this not a ground-breaking work of literature. Consider this not a piece of fiction boasting an avant-garde mode of narration.
Consider it not a commentary on the concept of subjugation of the weak by the ones holding the reins. Consider it not a thinly veiled feminist diatribe either.

Instead, consider The Handmaid's Tale an almost physical experience. Consider Margaret Atwood a fearless deliverer of unpleasant news - a messenger unafraid of dishing out the bone-chilling, cruel, unalter
Bookworm Sean
I’ve been moved by books in the past, many times, but I’ve never before read a book that has emotionally drained me to such a degree. This is frightening and powerful. And sometimes it only takes a single paragraph to make you realise how much so:

“Yes, Ma’am, I said again, forgetting. They used to have dolls, for little girls, that would talk if you pulled a string at the back; I thought I was sounding like that, voice of a monotone, voice of a doll. She probably longed to slap my face. They
Jul 09, 2007 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Handmaid's Tale portrays a terrifying but very real and possible dystopia. At first, it's difficult to tell what exactly is going on in the handmaid's world, although her spare narration is filled with a deep sense of fear and danger. It's challenging but exciting to try to make sense of all the frightening details that she describes, and that's one of the things that made this such a compelling read for me--I was desperate to figure out what was happening as well as how and why things had g ...more
Nov 11, 2010 Tatiana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who are not afraid to dive into the worst feminist nightmare
Imagine the near future where power is overtaken by the religious right under the guise of protection from Islamic terrorism. Imagine the future where the roles of the women reduced to those assigned to them in Old Testament - they are no longer allowed to read, work, own property, or handle money. Imagine that due to the pollution and man-created viruses, the fertility rates are so low that the few fertile women (the Handmaids) are now a communal property and are moved from house to house to be ...more
Jun 07, 2007 Victoria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sf-f, 2005
Not a very well written book. The writing itself is clumsy. It doesn't feel like you're reading a story; it feels like you're reading a piece of writing. Good writers put their words together for a calculated effect, but Atwood's words aren't just calculated-- they're contrived. In a good piece of writing, you shouldn't see the writer at all. You shouldn't see the structure of their writing. All you should see is the story. If you're seeing the deliberate cadence of a phrase, or the use of repet ...more
I would love to write a lengthy review for this book. But I can't. Because I'm so emotionally drained after reading it that it's a miracle I'm not still hiding underneath a pile of blankets, sobbing.

This is by no means an easy read, but I think it's a book that everyone needs to read.

This review can also be found on The Book Eaters.
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Oct 17, 2016 Matthias rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
Don't let the bastards grind you down.

There's a lot of talk about women's rights these days. There were times where I thought: enough already. You girls got it good. I looked around me and saw women with strong voices and a million choices. If they wished to go for a career, they could go for it. If they didn't, no biggie. Their liberty seemed greater than men's in a lot of respects. The power they wield over men is magnificent and often described as the greatest humanity is capable of: a woma
Oct 19, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true dystopian classic. This is incredibly well written, and I think that is why it's fan base is so enormous. It made EW's Top 25 Best Books of the Last 25 Years.

The account reminds me of, and is probably written trying to somehow emulate, "The Diary of Anne Frank." This new vision of the future is one devoid the female mystique, with only one sex becoming triumphant and dominating the other. This is misogyny to the nth degree. It is a holocaust that mirrors the treatment of women in the Midd
Aug 06, 2016 Lyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a brilliant, endearing, scary as hell book.

Told with simplistic, feminist prose and stark attention to detail, Atwood describes life in the not too distant future where the United States has been transformed through military coup into a totalitarian theocracy. This dystopian horror story is made all the more real by the bridge Atwood has created between the world we know now and the world that could be – the story’s protagonist remembers the time before
I read this many years ago and gave it 4 stars. I've just reread it for my Goodreads bookgroup's February read and upgraded it to 5 stars.

A wonderful hybrid: a book that is eminently readable, but packed with fascinating and thought-provoking ideas and symbolism.

It's set in the near future in a dystopian totalitarian theocratic state where pollution has rendered many infertile, so there has been a backlash against permissiveness and women are subjugated to the point where they are not even allow
Oct 03, 2016 Frankie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, usa

My first Margaret Atwood and it did not disappoint, i was hooked from the start.
Loved the short chapters.

Completely hopeless dystopian world similar to 1984 or Brave New World.

So much detail but not an overload. So powerful.

I understand the enormous hype with this book now.

Highly, highly recommended.

Simona Bartolotta
EDIT 02/06/2016: Lowering therating to two. I finished it more than a week ago and now I realized I haven't thought of it once. It really left me nothing.

"Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always mean worse, for some."

I used to think of my reading taste as predictable. Well, at least a very specific part of my reading taste: namely, there are very few things in the world that I love more than I love dyostopias in the style of 1984 and, above any other, Brave New World (seri
Renato Magalhães Rocha
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale seems to have everything it takes to construct a great book: an interesting idea, different format to present her story (which is made clear with the book's interesting Epilogue) and an intricate non-linear storytelling (that always grabs my attention when well done). Somehow it ended up not being as fulfilling as I expected it to be. It's a good book, but that's it.

The interesting idea: this is the third dystopian novel I've read - before it, there was Orwe
The scariest thing about Atwood's dystopian fantasy, first published in 1985, is how prophetic it seems. There were references in the book which sent a chill of recognition down my spine. A right-wing government which blames Islamic fundamentalists for terrorist attacks and begins to suspend certain human rights, claiming it is doing so to protect the people from heathen bastards? I daresay it will sound familiar to any left-wing American who has ever looked with a wary eye at the country's incr ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”

The Handmaid’s Tale is the foretelling of what will happen once this guy . . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

is elected President. I keeed. Maybe. Anyway, this is the story of Offred who after the rise of the religious right has been forced into the strangest form of indentured servitude – that of being a “breeder” for the wealthy. You see, the new world fell victim to all of our daily sins:

“Women took medicines, pills, men
Stephen Gallup
Aug 15, 2008 Stephen Gallup rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Here's a story that describes the essentials of what life would be like for women if Islamic fundamentalists took over our civilization. Long robes are mandatory, as are some kind of facial covering. Education is forbidden. Women exist for the pleasure and procreation of the men who control them. In short, pretty much like the situation that prevailed under the Taliban. Mark Steyn makes a pretty convincing case for that being Europe's inevitable future, but Margaret Atwood places the action here ...more
Jul 19, 2016 Mayra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: excellent
“This is a book about what happens when certain casually held attitudes about women are taken to their logical conclusions”

Somewhere in Maine, in a grim new regime called The Republic of Gilead, fresh laws stripped all women from their rights. Distorting the texts of the Bible, they follow a strict, conservative, extremely religious set of rules, instating a world where homosexuals, abortionists and priests are swiftly executed.

In a setting where more and more women are becoming infertile, f
Dalton Hirshorn
Jun 25, 2008 Dalton Hirshorn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Atwood didn’t make up anything in this book. All of the things that take place in the Republic of Gilead have happened at some point in history (which now includes 1985, the year the book was published). She also arrived at the society depicted in the book by taking certain attitudes, both feminist & conservative, prevalent at the time, and taking them to extreme conclusions. So the place and the culture she depicts are believable. What comes across as far-fetched is the rapidity wi ...more
With the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood and the misogynistic comments made by members of the GOP, I could not have read The Handmaid's Tale at a better time. This chilling story takes place in the Republic of Gilead, where women known as handmaids exist for the sole purpose of giving birth. They have no access to books or magazines, friends or companions, or any of their own belongings. If these women fail to fulfill their purpose or commit any crimes or infractions, the patriarchal powers ...more
Helen Stavraki
May 29, 2016 Helen Stavraki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Υπέροχο και σκληρό βιβλίο,αμιγώς προειδοποιητικό για τον κίνδυνο που διατρέχει κάθε κοινωνία η οποια βρίσκεται σε πλήρη ηθική,ανθρωπιστική και οικονομική κρίση.

Επομένως,πρέπει να διαβαστεί απο όλους τις Έλληνες!!
Επίκαιρο και ταιριαστό στην νέα τάξη πραγμάτων που μας υποβάλουν αργά και βασανιστικά.

Η αλήθεια ειναι πως το βιβλίο ειναι μια μαύρη κόλαση ένας τρόπος να αντιληφθείς άμεσα τα σάπια και τερατώδη γνωρίσματα του πολιτισμού μας. Του σύγχρονου πολιτισμού. Ειναι βιβλίο φαντασίας που βρίσκετα
Mar 04, 2012 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, the United States, in reaction to Islamic terrorist attacks and reduced fertility rates, has devolved into an intolerant Christian-based religious society where women are stripped of their freedom and defined by their sole purpose as either a wife (Wife), womb (Handmaid), servant (Martha), prostitute (Jezebel), or propagandists (Aunt). Those who refuse these roles are stripped of the title of woman, being referred to as unwomen, and sent to colonies to d ...more
Raeleen Lemay
Jun 04, 2015 Raeleen Lemay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, classics
I enjoyed the audiobook because it's narrated by Clare Danes, but I feel like I would have absorbed more of the story of I had read the physical book. Oh well. I can definitely see myself re-reading this someday.

I loved Atwood's way of describing things; it may seem over the top at times, but it really makes you understand how the main character perceives things. The historical notes at the end of the book were really interesting too.

However, the book didn't really do much for me aside from tho
Oct 11, 2016 Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eerie, Politically-Fueled Modern Classic
Events of the Past Few Days Have Brought this 1985 Novel to Mind
Wake Me UP! This is Only a Nightmare....Right?!?

This 1985 novel is not as potent as I'm sure it was in the 80s, considering all the dystopian stories since, in both novel and film form. Yet, it's eerie in its own right and not that far-fetched, especially this year with the peril faced by all but middle-to-upper-class white males. A Handmaid's Tale is destined to be, if not already, deemed a d
Barry Pierce
Brave New World meets The Scarlet Letter meets... The Bell Jar?! My #YearOfAtwood continues with The Handmaid's Tale, probably Atwood's most popular novel.

In The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood presents us with a dystopian society. Offred, our protagonist and narrator, is a handmaid. Handmaids are a group of women who are forced to have children for other couples within the nation of Gilead. It's all very Huxleyan. The novel as a whole is basically your common or garden dystopia but Offred's narration
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
More about Margaret Atwood...

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“Don't let the bastards grind you down.” 1785 likes
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