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The Handmaid's Tale

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  559,056 Ratings  ·  25,275 Reviews

A gripping vision of our society radically overturned by a theocratic revolution, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale has become one of the most powerful and most widely read novels of our time.

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now p

Paperback, 395 pages
Published December 12th 1986 by Fawcett Books (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

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2/5/17.....just another giant step towards making this book a reality, like they always dreamed of.

Original review written in 2o12:

WARNING: This review is being written after I worked a 13 hour day, with another one on the horizon tomorrow, and a glass of wine and while watching the Rachel Maddow show. Current events have put this book on the forefront of my mind, and damn it I got to get this out.

I have never written a review on The Handmaid's Tale because I love the book, and it is so hard to
Nov 29, 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
Nov 25, 2009 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
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
Apr 13, 2011 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
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
Bookdragon 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
Nov 27, 2009 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
What a perfect time to be scared to death by this novel. It doesn't feel dated or far-fetched at all, thanks to President Trump.

Claire Danes is a pretty good match for this narrative.

Original review
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. Im
Feb 16, 2009 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true dystopian classic. This is incredibly well written, & I think THAT is why it's fan base is so enormous & faithful. It made Entertainment Weekly'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 &) dominating the other. This is misogyny to the nth degree. It is a holocaust that mi
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is a tale of terror as well as a warning. The dystopian future she describes in "Gilead" which appears to be centered in Boston (due to the reference to Mass Ave and the town of Salem) is chillingly misogynistic where women are reduced to strict categories: Martha for housework and cooking, Jezebels (easy to guess, right?), Eyes, Angels (soldiers for the state), infertile Wives and potentially fertile Handmaids. It is beautifully written with lots of flashba ...more
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
Oct 13, 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
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 at The Alliterates.
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Mar 05, 2012 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
Joe Valdez
Jan 22, 2017 Joe Valdez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-general
My preparedness for the regime change taking place in the United States--with elements of the Electoral College, the Kremlin and the FBI helping to install a failed business promoter who the majority of American voters did not support in the election--continues with The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Rereading this 1985 novel was a metric for me. My first attempt, shortly after joining Goodreads, led to me abandoning the book, which ebbs and flows on mood and language and prompts the reader ...more
Helen Stavraki
May 26, 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
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
Simona Bartolotta
EDIT 02/06/2016: Lowering the rating 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 means 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 (se
Amalia Gavea
''But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.''

Imagine: You are a woman, and you have no name. Your name has been taken from you. All identity and individuality vanquished. Your name has been replaced by the word Of and the first name of your Master. You are Offred, Ofglen, Ofcharles, you are a nobody, you belong to a man who's not your husband, but someone who uses your body as a vessel for procreation. If
An interesting book to read right now for a couple of reasons. One, I just finished 1984 and it was very much a world like the one in 1984. Two, the storyline closely reflects the fears of the current political climate in America.

It is hard to say that a story like this is "great" as that has a positive connotation. I was very enthralling, but terrifying at the same time. As a man, I don't think this story has as deep of an impact on me as it would if I was a woman.

If you like dystopian, you mu
Terrifying! But SO good!

Update in Year One Of Dystopia:

As long as you are allowed and capable to read, please do read this novel! In an era when politicians in the Western world are not ashamed to refer to pregnant women as "hosts", deprived of their rights as individuals, we must start speaking up against the steady realisation of dystopian fiction. Let these authors, such as Orwell, Atwood, or Ishiguro, stay great writers of fiction! Don't make them involuntary prophets!

If we don't oppose the
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
Mar 31, 2015 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
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
Nandakishore Varma

When I originally read the book, I was disturbed by the story but gave it only three stars as I felt that it was too far-fetched. Well, my opinion has changed drastically over the past few months. With a person who believes in "grabbing women by the p****y" in genuine contention to become the president of one of the world's pristine democracies, one has to be seriously worried.

The recent episode from the annals of this scary clown is that his supporters want to take away women's right
Stephen Gallup
Aug 10, 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
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
Mar 19, 2017 María rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tan duro que no podía leer más de diez páginas diarias. Era incapaz.

P.D Si no hubiese machitos escocíos con este libro, entonces significaría que Margaret no lo hizo bien.
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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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