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The Handmaid's Tale

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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  423,022 ratings  ·  17,528 reviews
Written in 1985, Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale imagines a near future quite different than the one George Orwell had predicted for the previous year, but her novel has joined 1984 as one of the classics of dystopian literature. Her vision is of a United States transformed into the Republic of Gilead, a fundamentalist state in which women & their increasingly rare r ...more
Hardcover, 324 pages
Published March 13th 1986 by Random House Ltd. (UK) (first published 1985)
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Beth High school at the youngest because there is some heavy stuff along with depictions of sex and violence, though I think both are written without being…moreHigh school at the youngest because there is some heavy stuff along with depictions of sex and violence, though I think both are written without being excessively graphic or crass. However, as long as one is old enough to handle the themes, I don't believe there is a range. I was a teenager the first time I read it and I am at the end of my twenties now. I have read it with pleasure four times, getting new things out of it with each read. I don't expect I will ever outgrow it.(less)
John I've read two, Handmaid and Blind Assassin, and they were both amazing, both rich in symbols and mesmerizing. Assassin I found to be the more…moreI've read two, Handmaid and Blind Assassin, and they were both amazing, both rich in symbols and mesmerizing. Assassin I found to be the more challenging. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephanie
Watch this,to the end! It says it all.....

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
...more
Jennifer
(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
...more
Pollopicu
I guess Atwood doesn't believe in quotation marks.. I don't believe 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 it. I had to go back and re-read sentences again and again, which doesn't really lend itself to a relaxing reading experience. 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 front of my face. Like when s
...more
Kate
Should I read it? No. While I suspect The Handmaid’s Tale is one of those books people tend to either love or hate, I’m with the haters at the left. You’ve been warned.

What's the short and skinny of it? Extremist Christian beliefs have won the American culture war; as a result, women have no rights. They are slaves to men and the biblically-based, patriarchal society in which they live. The Handmaid's Tale is the first-person account of one of these enslaved women.

Tell me more.
Downvote!

Where to begin? Wh
...more
Samadrita
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
...more
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
...more
Nathan
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
Victoria
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
Tatiana
Nov 11, 2010 Tatiana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Navessa
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.
Paquita Maria Sanchez
THIS BOOKS ABOUT ORGIES AND PEOPLE WHO LIKE ORGIES AND SOME PEOPLE WHO H8 ORGIES.
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
...more
Martine
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
Cecily
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
...more
Stephen Gallup
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
Dalton Hirshorn
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
Lisa
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
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
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 03, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010), Governor General Award for Fiction
Shelves: 1001-core, 501, sci-fi
In Atwood’s book this novel is a speculative fiction. She says that science fiction is something that cannot happen in the current times (knowledge, technology) including those that happen outside Earth. Speculative fiction, on the other hand, has the feasibility of happening and the current and in the near future especially in here on Earth. Had I not read this book, I would not have learned the difference between this two. I originally classified this book as a sci-fi until this morning. I ori ...more
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
...more
Brian
I have a hard time with art that grapples with totalitarianism, especially in futuristic, Orwellian form. For me, basic human consciousness as it is already exhibits tendencies that are horrific enough in and of themselves to make totalitarian scenario-type books, even if allegorical (i.e. meant to be describing things as they are even though presented as taking place in a future time and place), seem a bit unnecessary. I have no idea if Margaret Atwood is considered a feminist writer, but in th ...more
Jenn(ifer)

What can I say? I'm not particularly inspired by this book. I “liked” it. It wasn’t great; it wasn’t revolutionary, but it was decent. I’m not sure what it would take to really WOW me at this point. Does a book have to be a work of art in order for me to love it? In a word, yes. I guess it does.

But there was nothing wrong with this book. It’s like a Mad Men marathon on tv when you’re sick in bed. Or like a radio station that plays 3 songs back to back to back that you don’t hate, without any cha
...more
Manny
For the Celebrity Death Match Review Tournament, The Handmaid's Tale (7) versus The Divine Comedy (26)

As she neared the gates, Offred saw an inscription over them which read
ABANDON HOPE, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE
She passed through, and they closed silently behind her. A moment later, she heard a voice that seemed to come simultaneously from the ground, the sky, and the inside of her head.

"You have forfeited all your rights," said the voice. "You will be my chattel and my plaything here through all e
...more
Stacey (prettybooks)
I found The Handmaid’s Tale to be one of the most compelling books I’ve ever read and definitely one of my favourites of this year.

In a world that has reverted back to a day where totalitarianism is commonplace and accepted, women known as “handmaids” are given (literally) to elite couples that are unable to have children, with the sole purpose of reproducing for them. If they do not fulfil this purpose, they are sent to the “colonies” to either work in agriculture or clear up toxic pollution, w
...more
Mike
Margaret Atwood immediately lets the reader know that there is no balm in Gilead, not even in the form of hand lotion to smooth a woman's hands roughened by physical labor. Atwood's dystopian novel of a theocratic government in what was formerly the United States of America is a reflection of fierce feminism shared by the most outspoken women of the time protesting the sexual exploitation and domination of women by men, particularly through the pornographic industry.

"The Handmaid's Tale" illustr
...more
Dolors
Closed the book last night and I'm still a bit dazed.
It's a weird feeling because I don't know whether I liked this novel or not. Pages flew by, I was engaged, I wanted to know more about this strange world, but at the same time I didn't. I felt threatened and anxious, does that make any sense?
Maybe some of the scenes became too plausible for my taste. Would it be possible? I couldn't stop wondering.

The future, Gilhead, somewhere in the States, after a war. Society has changed, men rule it, wome
...more
Summer
I was really struck, upon rereading this, at how much this book could be seen as a commentary on the Harvard/Radcliffe relationship. Of course, there is the obvious parallel to the Iranian revolution of 1979, and the deft discussion of the Second Wave feminist movement, but now that I have spent a bit of time with Radcliffe history, I have to wonder how much of it Atwood, a Radcliffe alumna herself, was influenced by in writing this.

The line that really made me think was the mention of graduati
...more
Stacey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aubrey
4.5/5

Margaret Atwood has such a way with metaphors. Give her a calm pond filled with normal plant life, and she'll make you see corpses floating in their own blood. An addictive sort of morbidity.

Anyways. It seems like every time I turn around there's another dystopia floating by in all its screwed up glory. Well. That depends on the quality (cough Hunger Games cough).

Here we have one that doesn't explain itself as much as others do, at least not very consistently. I enjoy this kind of writing
...more
Karly *The Vampire Ninja & Luminescent Monster*


A, is for Atwood!

5 please-never-happen Stars

So, do you remember that one time I got a PM from some guy I had never spoken to asking me what my biggest fear was?! Maybe yes, but likely no. So quick backstory: I got into work one morning and checked my Goodreads (because that’s what I do) and had a message from a guy I had never had interaction with asking the above….. no hello or nothing, just "what is your biggest fear?" Naturally I didn’t answer him – who would?! – and instead creeped his pr
...more
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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
More about Margaret Atwood...
Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1) The Blind Assassin The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam, #2) Alias Grace Cat's Eye

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