Lisa's Reviews > The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, 1001-books-to-read-before-you-die, margaret-atwood

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't make them involuntary prophets!

If we don't oppose the hypocrisy and illogical idiocy of lawmaking against women's choice regarding unwanted pregnancy, claiming that it is based on moral and religious grounds, we will have a society ruled by 17th century Puritans with an evil modern twist.

"Thou shalt not kill!" I agree. Let's start implementing that commandment where people are actually dying.

I am Pro Life: Let's work to put an end to the distribution and availability of weapons, the death penalty, and wars. Let's speak up for better health care to protect the lives of millions of human beings. Let's support refugees from other parts of the world that are threatened by war or famines or disease. Let's focus on the big issues that threaten life on earth! Let's care for our environment. Pro Life!

Update a couple of months into Year One Of Dystopia:

I just listened to an interview with a conservative Catholic politician in the UK who believes so much in the teachings of the Catholic Church that he thinks it is morally indefensible for a woman raped by a family member to have an abortion. Where is the novelist who can write a science fiction story about him waking up in hell after death and realising that Catholicism was not the absolute truth after all, but Hinduism. He receives the message that his next incarnation on Earth will be a young Catholic girl raped by a priest. Oh karma!

In Year Two of Dystopia we still quote the bible both to justify forbidding abortion AND to cause massive trauma to babies born on the wrong side of a border. Pro Life, anyone? Pro children?

Pro human beings? We are moving into Gilead, and it is no fun. I had intended to post news about misogyny in the Western world here regularly, to point out the incredible importance of this book regularly, but the sheer mass of reports makes it impossible. Today's harvest, among other things: 100,000 Christians subscribe to try to prevent US libraries from supporting a Drag Queen Story Time, bizarrely claiming it would "teach boys to become drag queens"! How long will we have to listen to that bullshit? Sorry for the expletive, but I am angry, really angry. If one could choose one's sexuality, I think many, many women who are victims of domestic rape would choose to be gay to escape toxic masculinity once and for all, but unfortunately, that is not how it works. Otherwise I would like to re-educate all patriarchs to a different sexual orientation, as theirs is by far the one that harms society most.

I can't wait to see what happens to Offred next, but I sense a gloomy sequel... The Testaments will tell.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 24, 2014 – Shelved
June 25, 2014 – Shelved as: favorites
August 9, 2014 – Shelved as: 1001-books-to-read-before-you-die
May 14, 2018 – Shelved as: margaret-atwood

Comments Showing 1-50 of 74 (74 new)


message 2: by John (new) - added it

John Right on Lisa!


message 3: by BlackOxford (new)

BlackOxford You got my vote Lisa.


Lisa John wrote: "Right on Lisa!"

Wow, I did not know I was that angry. Margaret Atwood researched existing patterns in fundamentalist religions to write her story: a cautionary tale based on historical research and understanding of human behaviour. Time to go back to studying history and sociology.


Lisa BlackOxford wrote: "You got my vote Lisa."

I am just one in the crowd, Michael, speaking up while I can :-)


Adina What a powerful review!


Eleanor Yes, I'll join your party Lisa! It is indeed frightening to see how books once considered far-fetched are turning out to be so prophetic.


Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob) I read this book just a couple years ago, one of my favorite books.


Lisa Adina wrote: "What a powerful review!"

Thanks, Adina!


message 10: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Eleanor wrote: "Yes, I'll join your party Lisa! It is indeed frightening to see how books once considered far-fetched are turning out to be so prophetic."

I know, Eleanor! I never thought I would be in the situation to fear the loss of freedom and democracy in the parts of the world once thought of as safe havens, the last hope for many refugees.


message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Jennifer wrote: "I read this book just a couple years ago, one of my favorite books."

Happy to hear that, Jennifer!


Dolors I join your pro-life proclamations, Lisa... what a great use you make of this book bringing up the absurdities of our real world.... Reality can be more kafkaesque than any dystopia!
You also whetted my appetite to pick another of Atwood's books...what am I waiting for??


message 13: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Dolors wrote: "I join your pro-life proclamations, Lisa... what a great use you make of this book bringing up the absurdities of our real world.... Reality can be more kafkaesque than any dystopia!
You also whett..."


You are right, Dolors! Kafkaesque is exactly right. I also want to read another Atwood soon, it's been a while.


message 14: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala Well said, Lisa.


message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Fionnuala wrote: "Well said, Lisa."

Thanks, Fionnuala!


Julie You go, girl! Thanks for bringing attention to one of my favorite books.


message 17: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Julie wrote: "You go, girl! Thanks for bringing attention to one of my favorite books."

Thanks, Julie! I am always happy to discover that other people like Atwood and her cautionary tale as well!


Kevin Ansbro Wonderful review, Lisa!
It pains me to say that my own view of this book swims against the tide of popular opinion. : (


message 19: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Kevin wrote: "Wonderful review, Lisa!
It pains me to say that my own view of this book swims against the tide of popular opinion. : ("


Thank you, Kevin! I know your feeling about swimming against the tide. I have a few authors I just can't stand, and everyone else loves them. But I guess that is part of why we share here on Goodreads, and why it is worthwhile to try different kinds of books!


Cecily Well said, Lisa.

I'm your sort of pro-life, and hate the fact that those who see merely pro-birth (but, as you say, are often pro-death in various forms) have usurped the term.


message 21: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Cecily wrote: "Well said, Lisa.

I'm your sort of pro-life, and hate the fact that those who see merely pro-birth (but, as you say, are often pro-death in various forms) have usurped the term."


Yes, Cecily, and I am getting more and more angry about it, after years of being "tolerant" when people bombarded me with the illogical focus on birth control as an expression of "respect for life" (anti-contraception, anti-abortion, anti-sex-before-marriage, anti-reality), while yelling loudly for weapons and (ideologically motivated) wars, and cutting of health care and welfare. Obviously, it is not about "Pro Life" at all, but about controlling female sexuality. Which is where Atwood got it right.


Cecily Yep. And the reason I've started saying "pro-birth" is because quite apart from the important issues of women's bodies, guns, and capital punishment, few of these people want to help unwanted or disadvantaged children after they're born, whether in terms of welfare, special ed, or adoption.


message 23: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Cecily wrote: "Yep. And the reason I've started saying "pro-birth" is because quite apart from the important issues of women's bodies, guns, and capital punishment, few of these people want to help unwanted or di..."

Yes, that is another part of the incredible hypocrisy that goes along with that movement. Aaarrrggghhh!


Kim. E. Amen!


message 25: by BlackOxford (new)

BlackOxford Something interesting from today's Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...


message 26: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Kim. E. wrote: "Amen!"

Cheers!


message 27: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa BlackOxford wrote: "Something interesting from today's Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/201..."

Oh, that is excellent, Michael! Thank you for sharing. I also chose to reread both 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale this winter, and I think I will try out Brave New World again as well, while I am at it. I only vaguely remember it.
The Guardian has had some really good articles recently. On the spot.


message 28: by Matt (last edited Feb 18, 2017 02:03AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Lisa wrote: "I will try out Brave New World again as well, while I am at it."

Jack London's The Iron Heel would also be a good choice if you look for dystopian books foreseeing the current situation. Published in 1908, way before Orwell, Huxley and the like. I think it is the most underrated and overlooked book from this genre and it needs readers like you :)


message 29: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Matt wrote: "Lisa wrote: "I will try out Brave New World again as well, while I am at it."

Jack London's The Iron Heel would also be a good choice if you look for dystopian books foreseeing the cu..."


I'll order it straight away. Always grateful for suggestions. Thanks, Matt!


Frank you might like to see the film too


Frank screenplay by none other than Harold pinter


Mohamad Almokhllati Thank you, Lisa. I like what you believe in.


message 33: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Frank wrote: "screenplay by none other than Harold pinter"

Then it must be worthwhile! Will check it out!


message 34: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Mohamad wrote: "Thank you, Lisa. I like what you believe in."

I am very passionate about it, Mohamad! Happy to hear we share that.


message 35: by Anuradha (new) - added it

Anuradha Let these authors, such as Orwell, Atwood, or Ishiguro, stay great writers of fiction! Don't make them involuntary prophets!

Amen.


message 36: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Anuradha wrote: "Let these authors, such as Orwell, Atwood, or Ishiguro, stay great writers of fiction! Don't make them involuntary prophets!

Amen."


Ha! Amen!


message 37: by Joudy (last edited Sep 06, 2017 12:15PM) (new)

Joudy A powerful review,Lisa
History repeats itself in less developed countries, but even in the midst of the tragedies of history there are traces of hope and beauty.


message 38: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Joudy wrote: "A powerful review,Lisa
History repeats itself in less developed countries, but even in the midst of the tragedies of history there are traces of hope and beauty."


I agree - Atwood's fiction has that trace of hope and beauty. I just get so angry at the moment, reading news with my teenage children and not being able to offer them anything better than white, heterosexual men thinking they have the right to do whatever pleases them with the bodies of the rest of humankind and just dump the shame and blame on the victims of their evil doungs as well - in the name of religion. It makes me choke.


message 39: by Jaline (new)

Jaline Excellent review, Lisa - and I agree with your thoughts 100%!


message 40: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Jaline wrote: "Excellent review, Lisa - and I agree with your thoughts 100%!"

Thanks, Jaline! I am worried about the direction we are headed at the moment, and feel I have to speak up on behalf of my children's generation. They should be able to take the same rights for granted that I have enjoyed all my life.


message 41: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Frank wrote: "A film version appeared in 1989, with screenplay by none other than Hard Pinter. Well worth seeing!"

I really need to work on my decades of film backlog. I just never choose to watch a movie when I have two hours of free time, but I know I miss out on some great cultural achievements as a result.


message 42: by Joudy (new)

Joudy Lisa wrote: "Joudy wrote: "A powerful review,Lisa
History repeats itself in less developed countries, but even in the midst of the tragedies of history there are traces of hope and beauty."

I agree - Atwood's..."

I felt for a moment a pang that touched the source of tears , Lisa.
The abuser wants to control the woman’s behaviour by making her afraid. I believe that most men who abuse women are not violent or abusive to other people.
And I know many women who are constantly being abused by men, there are many reasons why it took them so long to get out, we shall take a moment before passing judgment on them!!
It has been shocking to see some women excuse the violence, even People wind up blaming her for the abusive behavior of her abuser, or they convince her if she approaches the person differently, maybe she won't be abused. Violence against women and girls must not continue unabated


message 43: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Thankfully Mr Mogg has shot his fox in being so frank on TV the other day (the betting on him as next Prime Minister has tanked from 6/1 to 40/1)

He really is an odd fish. One common description for him is "The Member (of Parliament) for the Nineteenth Century". He was gaining a significant profile using the Bozo Boris route - "look at me, I might be posh but I am a good egg and very entertaining".

I like the idea of JMR turning up in hell only to find out that Hinduism ruled. I think his reincarnation prospects would be interesting.


message 44: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Of course Mr Rees Mogg would disapprove of anyone shooting foxes. They need to be dispatched by being chased to exhaustion and then ripped to pieces by ravening dogs.


message 45: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Ray wrote: "Thankfully Mr Mogg has shot his fox in being so frank on TV the other day (the betting on him as next Prime Minister has tanked from 6/1 to 40/1)

He really is an odd fish. One common description f..."


Isn't it astounding what people say on television, actually unabashedly believing that their natural right to control other people's bodies is god-given? In my world, his comments are just as oppressive, insulting and intrusive as if I had sat there saying that I believe in castration for all Catholic priests - as they are not supposed to use those organs for sexual acts anyway, - and are morally bankrupt when they do it. I wonder if foggy Moggy would support me on that one? For the sake of Catholic morality?


message 46: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Different world views.

Castration for Mr Mogg might be easier to argue on the basis of child cruelty - who would name their child Sextus? FFS


message 47: by Anni (new)

Anni Ray : when you use the 'ad hominem' argumentative strategy (whereby genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument) then you have I fact lost the argument, as it is a fallacious piece of logic. I find your views even more abhorrent than you obviously find those of Mr. Moggs - but I would not stoop so low as to use the insulting language you use against someone who is genuine in his religious belief that the unborn child also has a right to life.


message 48: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Anne HS wrote: "Ray : when you use the 'ad hominem' argumentative strategy (whereby genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person m..."

It was me criticising the official politician - not the private person - for views he tries to impose on everyone else. I don't agree that genuine faith is a valid excuse to openly discriminate against anything that doesn't benefit and enrich a certain person holding that specific faith. One can use the bible to promote or reject just about anything in the world, holding it up as a shield to hide behind to avoid criticism. There is so much nonsense to be found in it that we should never let anyone quote from it to justify political actions! Mr Mogg is actively voting against health care and pollution regulations, he speaks against same sex marriage hiding behind his "Catholic Faith" etc. etc. etc. As a public figure with influence, he is subject to criticism and resistance from those who are the victims of his entitlement politics. He himself would be the first to cry out if conservative Christians weren't allowed to criticise or make fun of other religions and atheists in the name of free speech.
Regarding abortion and same sex marriage, I find it incredibly hypocritical to be against those two rights based on personal faith while his politics cause tremendous suffering to children who already dwell on earth. If he was consistent in his "pro life" views, I would still not agree with his right to try to impose his Catholic norms on others, but I would respect him more as a human being.


message 49: by Anni (new)

Anni Sorry Lisa, but Rees Mogg does not try to impose his views on anyone. He was asked what his view on abortion was and gave it. In that same interview he pointed out that the law of the land means that abortion is legal in the UK and that he nor any politician can change it. I am not a Catholic (or a Christian) and share your opinion on the bible, but I do believe it is wrong to kill another human being. Foetuses are being aborted at an age when they are fully-formed enough to be considered viable, often for no better reason than expediency. Seeing the pregnancy scan of my grand- daughter at 16 weeks, where she could be clearly seen sucking her thumb, brought home to me the enormity of a legal termination at 24 weeks. Even if you disagree with someone's views, saying that they should be castrated for them as Ray did, is disgusting in the extreme if you believe in free speech.


message 50: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Anne HS wrote: "Ray : when you use the 'ad hominem' argumentative strategy (whereby genuine discussion of the topic at hand is avoided by instead attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person m..."

Interesting. So when did you have the humour by pass? Or is that another ad hominem attack?


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