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The Handmaid's Tale

(The Handmaid's Tale #1)

by
4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,155,733 ratings  ·  58,526 reviews
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Ha ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 395 pages
Published December 1989 by Fawcett Crest (first published 1985)
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  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
    The Handmaid's Tale
    by
    Release date: Mar 16, 1998
    Enter for the chance to win a newly repackaged edition of THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood. And don't miss THE TESTAMENTS, Margaret Atwood's seq ...more

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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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    4.09  · 
    Rating details
     ·  1,155,733 ratings  ·  58,526 reviews


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    Kate
    Apr 13, 2011 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
    ...more
    Stephanie *Extremely Stable Genius*
    5/22/19

    Looking back on my original review, it reads as quaint compared to the draconian state laws recently being passed, my state of Ohio being one of them. Make no mistake, this not about ‘life’ it’s about controlling women. If you can’t decide what happens to your own body you do not have freedom. This is about bodily autonomy.

    Women have the RIGHT to legal and safe abortions with no qualifications. The fact that the narrative has gone to ‘in cases of rape and incest’ is troubling. Rape...inc
    ...more
    Pollopicu
    Nov 25, 2009 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
    ...more
    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
    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 c
    ...more
    Emily May
    Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

    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
    Jennifer
    Nov 29, 2007 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
    ...more
    Michael Finocchiaro
    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
    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
    Tatiana
    Nov 27, 2009 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
    ...more
    Adina
    Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I. Night

    I am lying awake in my bed. I keep my eyes closed and beg sleep to come. Fruitlessly! Outside, the rain is whipping the windows without mercy. My husband is sleeping next to me, oblivious to my struggle. I need my thoughts to go away. I need to forget that I just finished the Handmaid's Tale and its effect on me. I knew I should have resumed myself to the self-imposed daily quota of 10%. But no. I had to read the last 30 % in one go and now I can't sleep because of it. It’s like a shot o
    ...more
    Maria
    Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    4.8/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don't let the bastards grind you down.”


    What can I even say about this masterpiece of a book? What can I even say that hasn't already been said? I'm awed to my core, this book is a prediction, a revelation, a hymn. This book is so fucking old, yet so fucking relatable and ahead of its time... it reads like 1984. The events in this dystopian book seem like such a close reality which scares me for the future of humanity.

    I wanted to read this b
    ...more
    Miranda Reads
    Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
    Set in the not-so-distant future, Offred is designated as a Handmaid. Meaning her fertile womb "allows" her to stay in the house of Fred as his legal consort.

    (Hence the name "Of Fred" and the not-so-subtle foreshadowing "offered".)

    Her alternative? Working in the radioactive wastelands (which would undoubtedly lead to her de
    ...more
    Fabian
    Feb 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    A true dystopian classic. This is incredibly well written, & I think that 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" several years ago.

    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
    ...more
    Victoria
    Jun 07, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 2005, sf-f, fiction
    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
    Megan Johnson
    I don't even know where to start with this book??

    I was not able to connect with the Characters in the book at all. It was a task to completely finish this book at all.

    I know I am in the minority, but I don't know what all the hype was with this book. I think that Atwood was long winded in her writing style and did not help with the connections with the Characters.

    I honestly don't have much more to say about this book.
    Candace
    After reading 'The Handmaid's Tale', I can see why this dystopian classic has made such an impression on so many. This is a book that definitely hangs with you, haunting your thoughts, long after you finish the book. It is thought-provoking and terrifying.

    The story centers on the heroine, Offred, who is a "handmaiden" in this futuristic world created by Ms. Atwood. As a handmaiden, Offred's sole purpose is to produce a baby for the Commander and his wife, Serena Joy. Once she has served her purp
    ...more
    Lyn
    Mar 05, 2012 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 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 the chang
    ...more
    Lisa
    Terrifying! But SO good!

    Update in Year One ... No .... It's Already Year Two ... Terrible Two ... 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
    ...more
    Matthias
    Oct 13, 2016 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
    ...more
    Matthew
    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
    ...more
    Kevin Ansbro
    "Nolite te bastardes carborundum."
    (Don't let the bastards grind you down.)

    Me, after reading this book: "Meh!"

    Because so many of my esteemed Goodreads friends have sung in praise of this novel, I felt that I was destined to join their burgeoning ranks. Instead, I was left scratching my head, wondering if I'd even read the same book!

    I was that rarity - an Atwood virgin - and I was knee-tremblingly keen to pop my cherry. I would love to say that I was enthralled and that I am now a fan, but I
    ...more
    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
    ...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.

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    jessica
    Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    i am a massive scaredy cat. and as i rule, i avoid all things horrifying, frightening, spooky, and anything else that will give me nightmares. so this book came as an absolute shock. i am terrified. right down to my bones.

    how can i be so fascinated by this kind of society, but also repulsed by it at the same time?

    why do i feel confident that something like this could never happen, but also have a voice in the back of my mind whispering, ‘are you really so sure?’

    what makes me want to never thin
    ...more
    Nathan
    Jul 09, 2007 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
    Luca Ambrosino
    English (The Handmaid's Tale) / Italiano

    «We slept in what had once been the gymnasium»

    Dystopian sci-fi, set in a future in which the US Government was overthrown in favour of the Republic of Galaad, an oligarchic regime laying down drastic measures to counteract the zero-growth of the world's population. First and foremost, the female subjugation, sired for reproduction.

    I decided to read the novel after watching the TV series. I regret to say that without the TV series, I wouldn't understand cer

    ...more
    Elizabeth Sagan
    Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    If 1984 is the father, The Handmaid’s Tale is the mother. They are both in the same category and yet they are different. The Handmaid’s Tale is more... feminine. It revolves around Offred’s drama, unlike 1984, which revolves more around the ideology (more like a battle between Winston’s ideas and O’Brien’s ideas).
    *
    I’ve read it with the shittiest combination of rage, sadness, fear and paranoia, which stuck with me throughout the entire book. I don’t easily get this emotional. But let me tell you
    ...more
    Kai
    May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 2017, owned
    “A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”

    This was my first adult dystopian novel and also the most realistic one I've read. Scary realistic even. I doubt that the future is ever going to look like this, but Margaret Atwood painted a multi-layered and thought-provoking picture that is going to stay with me for quite a while.

    I've never read a Margaret Atwood book before, but I have been eyeing her works for a while now. I just didn't know where to start. The re
    ...more
    Luffy
    Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Offred is a frightening character. The future where she lives is dystopian, but the word doesn't do justice to this book's plot. Among all the dystopian fictions I've read...e.g Matched by Ally Condie, Delirium by Lauren Olivier, or going back even more, The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, none is as scary as Offred's world.

    The story elements lean towards women, because the main character is a woman. But it's so much more than that. It affects pro-choice people. It affects the romantics who draw ins
    ...more
    Joe Valdez
    Jan 22, 2017 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
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    50,784 followers
    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

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