Oh, this book. Ooooooh this book. There was a point towards the beginning when I questioned whether I would be able to keep reading. The book, the eveOh, this book. Ooooooh this book. There was a point towards the beginning when I questioned whether I would be able to keep reading. The book, the events and the time it depicts, are almost over-the-top intense, and the author certainly creates a roller coaster of emotions for the reader to ride upon.
But reading in my bed for several hours at a time, I had to know what would happen next. I cared about the characters and loved learning about what it was like to be a plantation owner's wife, an indentured servant, and yes, a slave, in the 1800's in Southern Virginia.
The themes of the book fascinated me and left me pondering so many questions, such as: What role does slavery play in modern-day African American culture? Where does the cycle of sexual abuse start, and where does it stop? What makes a family happy? What makes a family? How was the enslavement of blacks similar to the enslavement of women in Antebellum Southern culture? Is it worse to be poor or lonely?
It gave me a chill to read the author's story about writing this story, how she felt that she was guided by the spirits of those who have passed on. Certainly we in modern times have much to learn from them. ...more
A single mother and writer living in London in the 1950's, middle-aged Anna Wulf keeps four notebooks:
- Black: Her memories of living as an expatriateA single mother and writer living in London in the 1950's, middle-aged Anna Wulf keeps four notebooks:
- Black: Her memories of living as an expatriate in colonial Africa in her 20's.
-Red: A chronicle of her political activity, and eventual disillusionment with the Communist party.
-Yellow: A novel that closely mirrors her own life, especially her love affairs.
-Blue: A personal diary of her life experiences and emotions.
This 600+ page novel is historically significant (as a feminist work) and compulsively readable most of the time, if a bit long-winded and depressing at times. I think it is an interesting study as a reflection of a certain place and time in history, especially for women who were struggling to accommodate new roles on top of the traditional role of wife/mother, and find a new place in the world without going crazy - literally.
Things that this novel confirmed for me:
- If you live alone with no responsibilities or schedule or associations with other normal human beings, you will go insane.
- If you try to replace spirituality and morality with politics, men, a career, or anything else, nothing else will fill that gap adequately and you may live a miserable and lonely life as a result.
- If you confuse lust with love and have promiscuous sex with useless men so that the very act comes to carry no meaning whatsoever, you will both be miserable and go crazy.
- If you are a self-absorbed, immoral person, you will likely attract friends and acquaintances of the same caliber and will all be miserable together.
- Communism doesn't work.
- There are very few real, responsible, emotionally available, sane, faithful, sexually functional men in the world, even in the 1950's, so if you find one, consider yourself blessed.
- Even so-called "free women" like Anna Wulf, so "free" because she's not married and pays little attention to or time with the child she has, can end up in emotional bondage, because they still need love just like every other human being.
Four stars for a very unique form - the four notebooks that ultimately fuse into one "golden" notebook with all aspects of Anna the individual. Also, for transporting me to a foreign time and place and making me feel like I actually lived there with a character. It may not have always been a pleasant life, but still, I admire the skill Lessing had to achieve that effect....more
This is a hard book to explain if you haven’t read it. It’s not the length of the novel so much as the denseness that makes it complex and thought-proThis is a hard book to explain if you haven’t read it. It’s not the length of the novel so much as the denseness that makes it complex and thought-provoking. Atwood crafts and plays with her words as well as the narrative itself, at times questioning it’s own validity, acknowledging that each story is subject to the memory and bias of the teller.
Published in a wave of popular conservatism in the 1980's, Atwood called her feminist dystopian novel “speculative fiction” in that it explores the possibilities of elements already present in the world we live in (as opposed to science fiction, which focuses on elements that are currently out of reach but could in the future be possible).
Here is the world she creates: Offred, the protagonist, is a Handmaid in the land of Gilead (formerly America). As a member of this social class, Offred is only as valuable her body, and her womb in particular. Using biblical precedence, the law dictates that upper echelon couples unable to have children may use a handmaid to conceive in place of the wife. Thus, Offred must conceive children for the good of the country; this is being her whole purpose, she will be destroyed if she fails in this mission. The story is told in flashbacks to her former life as an ordinary carefree college student, a working woman with her own money, then a mother of daughter who was later taken from her, and wife to a man she loved. She remembers how little by little, the government was overthrown, and ultimately women lost all their rights in this new regime.
The rational for the overthrow: modern sexual freedom had diminished men’s place in society and emasculated them, as well as dehumanized women as sexual objects. The new way supposedly protects and values women; however, by the end of the novel, we see that women are still being abused, subjugated and enslaved. “It’s the way of nature”, claims one Commander.
The novel draws a contrast between two extremes; 1970's over-the-top sexual freedom versus extreme patriarchal conservatism. I don’t feel either one could be healthy or positive for society, and left me pondering how women can truly be free....more