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Thousand Splendid Suns compared to Handmaid's Tale

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Penny I finished this book quite some time ago - But, have been unable to let go of the content. I recently read "The HandMaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood. This story (in it's most very basic form) is a futuristic take on a society that does not allow women to act independently. Has anyone read these 2 books - And, if so - drawn the same correlation between the two? If so, would love to discuss the similarities.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

it's been a long while since i've read "a handmaid's tale" but, from what i can recall there are similarities. in "handsmaid's" was the main character one of the women whose primary purpose was to have (other people's) babies? i might have to re-read it, it's all a little foggy.

message 3: by Liz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liz I have not read this one yet...and I keep forgetting all the books that I have read until someone mentions them. I would not mind reading Atwood again(been more than a decade), and this as well. It may take me a few months realistically though, as I have other things going on.

Lee Ann I didn't notice a correlation between these two books but if I may diverge slightly from the topic... There was an article a couple of weeks ago in the paper about a house in India where young women who are surrogate mothers for wealthy couples in the US and other countries live together and receive health care etc. while they are waiting to give birth. This instantly brought to mind The Handmaid's Tale. If you haven't read it yet you should do so. It is scary to think that this could really happen some day.

Lisa I hadn't considered the correlation between the two books. I think the settings were so divergent, and I had read A Handmaids Tale a good 15 years ago that it hadn't come to mind at all. Either way, both books discuss some important issues about women's roles and the value or lack of value placed on mother's in society.

Eileen I've only begun A Thousand Splendid Suns today (bought it from audible.com for my iPod while I'm on the treadmill at the gym in the mornings. I can close my eyes for an hour and be transported to another land. It is too early for me to correlate the two books. However, I'm a big fan of Margaret Atwood because of her character development. Her characters stay with me long after I've read the last page. I suspect A Thousand Splendid Suns may be like that, as well.

As I was searching at audible.com this morning, trying to decide which book to download, the other author I looked at closely was Margaret Atwood. Small world!


Linda Ingersoll I had the exact same experience while reading A Thousand Splendid Suns - comparing the scary, s.f. of The Handmaids Tale, to the scary, "real" life of women in Afghanistan. Amazing how easily our freedom could/can be taken from us. After I read this, I read "The Princess" which is a true story of a Saudi Arabian princess. Along similar lines of women's rights. Very interesting read.

Debbie im so glad you found a science fiction novel that powerful. i read handsmaid tale a long time ago and some of the images are still with me. the repression was so severe, and the controllers of the society made it so difficult for those they persecuted to communicate with eachother. in the handmaids tale they found secret ways to communicate. did they in a thousand splendid suns. i read it a lot more recently but i dont remember. another book you might like- snowflower and the secret fan.

William I have read/heard on numerous occasions that Margaret Atwood visited Afghanistan in 1978, and that aspects from The Handmaid's Tale were inspired by this visit (i'm thinking particularly of the treatment of women). So i guess it's not surprising that there are some similarities between the two novels. It has been a long time since i read THT, but i remember thinking it was incredibe. Just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns...fantastic...

message 10: by Liz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liz "The Handmaid's Tale" is an imaginary future (possible, yes; true, no). "Thousand Splendid Suns" has, I'm certain, been played out in real life. Although I loved both equally, I cannot put them in the same class for comparison.

But good food for thought, Penny!

message 11: by Deb (last edited Jul 14, 2008 07:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Deb Although Handmaid's Tale is fiction and Thousand Splendid Suns is based on fact, they share the theme of oppression of women brought about by men in power deliberately misinterpreting and imposing specific sections of 'God's Word'. In Handmaid's Tale it is Biblical misinterpretation, and in Thousand Splendid Suns it is Quranic misinterpretation. The male powers-that-be use the 'infallibility' of The Word to justify their abuse of women. The Handmaid's Tale has examples of public hangings/beatings for women who've 'strayed', which actually happens in the Middle East. The key difference is that with Handmaid's Tale you think "wow, I hope this is never allowed to happen" (assuming a Western perspective), but with Thousand Splendid Suns the horror of the fact this *is* happening right now is stark and unavoidable. Although Thousand Splendid Suns is fiction, it is disturbingly truthful. Handmaid's Tale *could* be put back on your bookshelf without a second thought, Thousand Splendid Suns definitely cannot.

Debbie the book that is the nonfiction definitive book about female oppression. Infidel. truly haunting.

Michelle I read the "Handmaid's Tale" about twelve years ago in college. I thought it was incredible. I am reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns" now. I think they are both heart-breaking. Women suppressed by a society, in the name of religion. It is sad because "A Thousand Splendid" is current and effecting women now. It is scary because the "Handmaid's Tale" COULD be true some day.....

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The Handmaid's Tale was okay, but A Thousand Splendid Sunds was so much better...

Theresa Both books core themes are about men's power over women; however what is depicted in Thousand Splendid Suns is unfortunately a reality for many women in the Middle East. In Hand Maid's Tale, the scenario is so far-fetched that you may read it and get a shiver down your spine, like watching Halloween. But the odds of a crazed stranger chasing you through the house with a knife are pretty low. Women in this country have struggled and fought so hard for equal treatment, that I can't conceive of a USA where THT premise would exist.

Sharon I think that the Handmaids Tale is a bleak foretelling of what will happen if we sit on our butts and let our rights be taken away.

I always said that The Handmaids Tale was the right-wing answer to menage a trois.

Think about it.

Megan That is pretty humorous that you think that The Handmaid's Tale was the right-wing answer to menage a trois. Good sense of humor.

Both of these books are powerful and i can see some similarities in them, but I think that The Handmaid's Tale could be compared to a lot of books concerning female oppression.

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