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The Handmaid's Tale (The Handmaid's Tale, #1)
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Book Club Discussions > Book #24 - The Handmaid's Tale

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message 1: by Max (new) - rated it 3 stars

Max Berger | 156 comments Mod
Discuss your thoughts on The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood with us here! Are you watching the Hulu TV show? Feel free to talk about that as well!


Adriana (Mea) Gutierrez (adrianamea) | 129 comments Mod
Currently listening through audible! I’m listening to a special edition narrated by Claire Danes from Homeland (TV Show).


ROBERT | 60 comments Is this a dystopian classic like 1984, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Farenheit 451, etc.? I think it is. Folks will be reading this book 50 years from now. It has been 20 years since it was published.


ROBERT | 60 comments Not much interest in this book it seems. It is one of TGAR books.

Anyone find it unusual where the story started and ended? It started after the crisis events that created the dystopia with only brief references to life before that.

It ended with her escaping the house but no resolution on any of the larger issues. It starts after the beginning and ends well before the end.

Atwood really leaves the ending and resolution to you, it requires more involvement by the reader to do much of the work. It almost felt like it ended early deliberately to leave room for a sequel. There is none in this case.


Frances Nielsen | 4 comments This book has long been sitting on my TBR list - I think I should immediately move it to "next-in-line".
I watched the first season of the Tale and found it gripping. It left me a bit despairing for humanity.


Jenna Moquin | 2 comments Frances wrote: "This book has long been sitting on my TBR list - I think I should immediately move it to "next-in-line".
I watched the first season of the Tale and found it gripping. It left me a bit despairing fo..."


The book is fantastic. I haven't watched the series yet but I've heard it's very good. I'm definitely going to read more from Margaret Atwood.


message 7: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten  (kmcripn) It's very good. But, it just uses the book as a jumping off place.


message 8: by ROBERT (last edited Jun 21, 2018 11:34AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ROBERT | 60 comments Kirsten wrote: "It's very good. But, it just uses the book as a jumping off place."

The producers of the show are basically going to write the sequel. I wonder where they will take it.


message 9: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I think the book just provides a start to tell the story of an oppression of women. It gives them a chance to explore.


message 10: by ROBERT (last edited Jun 21, 2018 12:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ROBERT | 60 comments Kirsten wrote: "I think the book just provides a start to tell the story of an oppression of women. It gives them a chance to explore."

That was one theme but the abuse of religion by zealots was a big one as well. The men reminded me of the Dobermans in Animal farm. They were nameless faceless characters at war or law enforcement. There were only three men really in the book, the commander, Luke and Nick.


message 11: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten  (kmcripn) In the series, I like how they flesh out how it actually happens... the flashbacks are done excellently.


Adriana (Mea) Gutierrez (adrianamea) | 129 comments Mod
Jules, I have 2 more hours left of the special edition version! I’ll let you know what I think about the Gilead interview at the end. Very curious about it...


Adriana (Mea) Gutierrez (adrianamea) | 129 comments Mod
I think that I would have preferred to physically read this book first and then listen to it. By reading it I would be able to enjoy the excellent word choices and philosophies by being able to pause, reflect and reread sections. I’ve read 1984, blade runner, other dystopian classics, by this one is a lot to wrap my head around.

That being said, the narration is wonderful and I do recommend it to second time readers! Audiobook is so refreshing when revisiting a favorite book.

I would also like to mention that Atwood has a beautiful way of picking out words and answering all of our quick dismissals of the Offred’s situation.

The reader may ask incredulously: Why did Offred do that? Why didn’t she do this? I could’ve done better.... I could’ve screamed, called for help, killed, died, whatever... before life got so out of whack. And Offred as if listening to her readers easy remedies explains in detail the why, how and result of choices made. Not until we walk in her shoes and see through her eyes do we understand the severity of her situation.


Again, I have two more hours left... and things are happening! For those that are considering putting it down because the beginning reads at a snails pace, keep going! These finals sequences are worth it!


Chris S | 48 comments I ended up watching season one the series over two days and was fascinated/horrified during the entire season. As I waited for season two to begin, I decided to read the book. I was surprised that so much of the book made it into the entire season (and some into season two). I think having watched the series first made the reading go a lot faster. I am not sure the concepts would have been so vivid in my mind if I hadn't seen it first visually. Now that I am deep into season two, I can see where the series is now completely original and I continue to be impressed with its vision and execution. There are only three episodes left in the season and I am happy to know that season 3 has already been ordered.
I am curious to know if anyone has seen the original film adaptation that was made in 1990. I am fearful that it may tarnish my impressions of the novel and series.


message 15: by ROBERT (last edited Jun 25, 2018 10:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ROBERT | 60 comments Chris wrote: "I ended up watching season one the series over two days and was fascinated/horrified during the entire season. As I waited for season two to begin, I decided to read the book. I was surprised that ..."

Boy, our cultural experiences are so tied to the apps, websites and channels we have. I did not even know season 2 had already started.

No idea about the film. Now I am confused. When was the book written? I thought it was 1998.

The TV folk really are writing the sequel. I wonder where they will take it after Offred is extracted by the resistance. I hope it doesn't have a plot with deus ex machina coming in to play. I hope it is true to Atwood's vision but I am not sure she had one past the ending of the book.

PS - Maybe I am wrong about deus ex machina. Lord of the Flies is an example. I liked it there.


message 16: by Max (new) - rated it 3 stars

Max Berger | 156 comments Mod
I haven't seen any of the show yet, and didn't even realize there was a movie- but I just finished the book!

It wasn't my favorite dystopian novel to be honest. I didn't always enjoy the fragmented way the story was told, and at times I found Offred's inner monologue a bit dull.

I also think it's odd that this society changed so drastically so quickly, with many of its members already indoctrinated - despite the fact that the main characters were well into adulthood by the time their rights were stripped away. With more worldbuilding, I think this gap could be bridged - but there is frustratingly little of that.

In addition, I find that the most impactful dystopian stories are the ones that seem like they could really happen someday. I didn't have that feeling here. It's hard for me to imagine that such a society could come about mainly because of declining birth rates. Does anyone else feel the same way?

I am still interested in checking out the TV show - I think I might appreciate the story more in a visual medium. 3 stars!


Frances Nielsen | 4 comments ROBERT wrote: "Chris wrote: "I ended up watching season one the series over two days and was fascinated/horrified during the entire season. As I waited for season two to begin, I decided to read the book. I was s..."

Hi Robert!
The book was first published in 1985, and a film adaptation was made in 1990. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Han...


ROBERT | 60 comments The book was written 33 years ago! 5 years after Reagan and the rise of the religious right. Has Atwood ever commented about that?

How was the movie?


Frances Nielsen | 4 comments ROBERT wrote: "The book was written 33 years ago! 5 years after Reagan and the rise of the religious right. Has Atwood ever commented about that?

How was the movie?"


This looks like an interesting article:
https://lithub.com/margaret-atwood-on...

Sadly, I haven't seen the movie, but would like to now, to compare to the series.


Carolin | 3 comments Just finished the book - awesome and scary, since she wrote it in the mid-eighties and where's the world today...alarming!

Also, in the edition I read, from 2017 I think, there's a preface by Atwood. Off to watch the show!


Diane (dianefe) I listened to the audiobook last year narrated by Claire Danes. I really enjoyed her narration.

We're dropped into the storyline without much background, which is something that I am usually frustrated by in books (mostly because I am impatient). Atwood does a good job of leaving just enough breadcrumbs to keep you hooked though, so you can follow what's going on without necessarily understanding everything all at once.

I agree with what someone previously said about perhaps reading and thinking "why wouldn't she have done this/that thing instead?" but the internal monologue explaining why the characters act a certain way make it much more realistic. The story is presented as mundane, but it's more disturbing because of this.

I finished the book and thought "whoa, is there a sequel?!" because it is definitely set up for one. I am looking forward to watching the series to get some of the unanswered questions played out. I also didn't know there was a movie!

I definitely felt that this was believable and not too far-fetched, but I'm generally overall cynical and already feel that people are capable of messing things up royally...

For anyone interested in the themes and style of the book, I'd recommend "The Book of the Unnamed Midwife" by Meg Elison. Totally different world depicted, but it's one that stemmed from a somewhat similar problem. It's also presented in the "drop you in the thick of it without giving you context" style, but done wonderfully.


Penny (pennyin702) | 1 comments What I was unaware of a movie!! I'm just finishing with the book, and have finished season 2 of the TV series!! It's a must read for sure!


message 23: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Julie wrote: "Anyone out there listen to the special Audible version with the interview and fictional discussion of Gilead history?"

I bought the Audible version WAY before the series came out. So I felt a little robbed. Wonder if theres a way to get just the extra?


message 24: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten  (kmcripn) ROBERT wrote: "The book was written 33 years ago! 5 years after Reagan and the rise of the religious right. Has Atwood ever commented about that?

How was the movie?"


I believe she has. She lives up in Canada and has a unique outlook on America.


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