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The Handmaid's Tale (The Handmaid's Tale, #1)
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Handmaid's Tale /The Testaments > The Handmaid's Tale - Fall 2019 - Spoilers, analysis, book, tv, movies

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message 1: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
This is the place to discuss The Handmaid's Tale phenomenon, in anticipation of the release of the sequel The Testaments on September 10, 2019.

SPOILER ALERT - Spoilers of The Handmaid's Tale are fine. (NO spoilers of The Testament)

Summaries and analyses are welcome for the benefit of those who might not want to reread the book.

Should we have a separate thread for the TV show? Does anyone think there is a reason to forbid spoilers of the TV show? Season 2?


Kimberly | 33 comments I just read HT this May, and OHMYGOODNESS that book me to places I’ve never been, and never want to go. The writing is phenomenal. I can’t wait to read Book 2.

If you haven’t seen it, please get your hands on the HT Graphic Novel. The pictures are vivid and artfully created. It is worth the perusal even if you don’t want to reread!


message 3: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Thanks Kimberly. I never read graphic novels, but this might be a good starter. It would give me a good review.


message 4: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Sep 08, 2019 01:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Has anyone else compared the Handmaid's Tale novel, graphic novel and TV show? I'm enjoying this so much more than I did the last time I read it.

The graphic novel of The Handmaid's Tale is a nice surprise. It summarizes the story well, picking key lines from the original. I didn't know what to expect from a graphic novel. I was surprised by the hard cover first of all, and the quality of the artwork. It's not overly busy and messy like the comic books I remember. It's really well done. Lots of vivid red of course.

I'm also reading portions of the original book in kindle, and I'm appreciating Atwood's writing more than I did before.

"Waste not want not. I'm not being wasted. Why do I want?"

The last time I read this - I listened to the audio - I was just focused on the narrative. I was frustrated by questions about what came before (how did this happen!) and what came after (which is what I hope to get Tuesday with The Testament).

So far I think the miniseries has added a lot about the transition period, to explain how they got to this point. It still seems impossible, like it couldn't happen here, and it couldn't happen that fast. But I'm reminded of A Thousand Splendid Suns and the transitions in Afghanistan when the fundamentalists took over. Women enjoyed a lot of freedom and education before that, and later they could be beaten simply for walking outside without a male relative.


Kimberly | 33 comments Yay Nancy for trying the GN!!! I loved it.

I can’t bring myself to watch the show just yet. The book was HARD to read. I just know when I’ll be able to watch.


message 6: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Sep 08, 2019 04:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
The show is pretty good.

One strange thing though in the casting: The actresses who play Offred and the wife (Mrs Fred whatever) both look about 40 to me, while in the book Offred was very young and the wife used a cane and had gray hair.


Lisa | 26 comments I listened to the Handmaid's Tale on audio and think that I missed a lot of it that way with my mind wandering and not fully paying attention to the narration. Now that I've watched the series on TV, I want to read the book because I can't tell if I missed certain parts listening to the audio or the TV series added or changed parts.


Lisa | 26 comments And I see that it has been 6 years since I listened to the book and only rated it 3 stars. That may change once I reread it.

I've also read A Thousand Splendid Suns and thought of The Handmaid's Tail!


message 9: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "I listened to the Handmaid's Tale on audio and think that I missed a lot of it that way with my mind wandering and not fully paying attention to the narration. Now that I've watched the series on T..."

I'm only 1/3 through the first season of the show and they definitely added a lot to modernize it. Back in the 1980's you wouldn't have a young women casually mention her wife. There was an episode in which Offred was tazed during an interrogation about a gay woman. I don't remember anything like that in the book.


message 10: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Sep 09, 2019 01:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "And I see that it has been 6 years since I listened to the book and only rated it 3 stars. That may change once I reread it.

I've also read A Thousand Splendid Suns and thought of The Handmaid's T..."


I think I gave it 3 stars when I listened to the audio - on a long car ride. The narration was just ok I guess. I liked the book better when it first came out.

I noticed the audio for The Testaments has many more speakers, and that often makes it more interesting.


message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa | 26 comments Ah, I wondered if the TV show added to the story - things that weren't in the book. I just got a free copy of the book and will start reading it as soon as I finish the Tudor book I'm currently reading. Yeah, if the narration isn't very good on audiobooks, my mind tends to wander while listening. Also, I don't think that I can retain as well as actually reading the written word.


message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa | 26 comments Started my reread of the Handmaid's Tale yesterday and can see how my mind wasn't focused on the audiobook. I think that I went into this book not knowing what it was about and may've been a bit lost listening to it. Having watched the TV series, I know whats going on and the book adds SO much more! Also, I'm loving the author's way of describing things...like what Offred's previous Commander smelled like (I just read it this morning and cracked me up)..."smelled like a church cloakroom in the rain; like your mouth when the dentist starts picking at your teeth; like a nostril." What does a nostril smell like? LOL!


message 13: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Sep 15, 2019 12:19AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I know. That was gross! I got sidetracked with bookclub reads and I'll finish it this weekend so I can start on The Testaments tomorrow.


message 14: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa | 26 comments I hope to finish by tomorrow or Tuesday (knocking on wood) so I can start Testaments. Reading Handmaid's Tale seems to go quickly because there aren't as many words on a page and there's whole blank pages separating the parts. Nice for speed reading.


message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa | 26 comments Finished HT this morning! Wow, I wasn't expecting that ending but I liked how it ended. Because I was wondering WHO was Offred telling her "story" to? I was guessing Luke, in case he turned out to be alive. Or it was her way to try to hang on to her sanity - telling somebody her story, hence the title The Handmaid's Tale.

The TV series expanded on the book in places and in other ways the book had more. A trade-off. Does anyone know if Atwood was an adviser to the show?

We never learn Offred's real name in HT, right? Or her daughter's? I just started rewatching the TV series and watched ep.1 last night. At the very end, we learn her daughter's name and Offred's real name. Sooo...the show's writers must've made them up, huh?


message 16: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Sep 16, 2019 02:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Finished HT this morning! Wow, I wasn't expecting that ending but I liked how it ended. Because I was wondering WHO was Offred telling her "story" to? I was guessing Luke, in case he turned out to ..."

Hmm, I'll have to check my kindle. I think the book is her testimony she's telling in case she doesn't make it. It's for posterity's sake.

....

It's in the book, but it's not really clear. They share names quietly in the Red Center. June is the last one.


message 17: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa | 26 comments Okay, that makes sense, Nancy. And that's how it appears, at the end with all the cassettes, telling her tale. But before that, I didn't know. And we don't know really about why those tapes were left where they were. If Offred made it out but didn't take the tapes, as if she left in a hurry or what.

OH, I missed the names then or forgot. I will go back and look through my bookmarks. Thanks, Nancy!


message 18: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa | 26 comments Found it! At the end of the first chapter HT, in the last sentence..."In this way we exchanged names, from bed to bed: Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June." I'm not sure about hearing anything more about Alma or Dolores in the book. And we never heard anything about June so it's a process of elimination, that her name may be June. And I only knew that for sure because I watched the TV series.


message 19: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
I watched a few more episodes of the tv show tonight. I have to say, I think I like the tv show more than the book.


message 20: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa | 26 comments It was surprising to me that there was enough content in the book for a multiple season tv series. But they managed it quite well. I looked up on the internet to see if Margaret Atwood was an adviser or consultant on the show. It sounded like she is but has no real power. Ironic? And there's talk of turning The Testaments into its own series or tie it onto HT.


message 21: by Jana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jana Viktoria | 1 comments Hey guys,

just got into this group and well... see my review of the book, if you are interested. We read it in our book club - and I highly recommend having a small group of people (we are only four women... with totally different backgrounds) and reading a book together... (everyone of us gets to suggest and we have a poll...) - and it was not my choice. Turns out, was not my liking either... but I hear the TV show is really good?

Had some insights while watching Dear White People - haha... - which is an awesome show though.

Anyone else out there not liking the book? And why?

Looking forward to the exchange!


message 22: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa | 26 comments Hi Jana and welcome! You have a local version of Goodreads on a small intimate level which is nice. I used to belong to a local book club years ago and I don't remember why I had quit going. Probably because I discovered Goodreads. But I think that I may rejoin the book club, if they'll have me.

After rereading HT, I liked it better. Listening to it on audio the first time didn't really work for me. I didn't appreciate the many passages, phrases that I thought were unique. One of my favorites is "“Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. Wool blanket.” For that reason, I upgraded my rating from a 3 star to a 4 star.


message 23: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "Hi Jana and welcome! You have a local version of Goodreads on a small intimate level which is nice. I used to belong to a local book club years ago and I don't remember why I had quit going. Probab..."

Lisa, I loved that quote too, and several others. I just finished the book tonight. I used a kindle and it was nice to highlight quotes I liked, and some that summarized a key point well. I really enjoyed the writing more this time than the last time I read it (actually I listened to an audio last time). My rating will be a little higher too.

I also enjoyed reading about the research conference at the end of the book, where they discuss the audio tapes that Offred/June recorded after she escaped. I've been to academic conferences, and the nerdy humor sounded about right. I'm still disappointed though that we don't know what happened to her or her family. I have The Testaments - both the kindle and the audio, and I hope we'll learn more about her or her daughter.
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I also finished the Graphic Novel. I think it tells enough of the story for someone who wants a shorter version, or a review. There are a couple spots where there seemed to be too much missing. The graphics are lovely. It includes many of the shorter quotes from the book, but not the longer descriptions.
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When Atwood was writing The Testaments, she asked the TV show to please don't kill off Aunt Lydia. They said no problem, we wouldn't want to. Aunt Lydia plays a large role in The Testaments.
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I watched about half of the first season of the TV show, and so far I love it. It's more entertaining than the book, it has time to flesh it out. It changes some of the details and includes more about her family. I watched one episode about her husband and how he finally got to Canada. Three years later he finds out that his wife is alive. The TV show and the The Testament are probably diverging quite a bit, so I may just pick one for now, and save the other for later. I might read The Testaments first just because the Booker award decision is coming up.


message 24: by NancyJ, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Jana wrote: "Hey guys,

just got into this group and well... see my review of the book, if you are interested. We read it in our book club - and I highly recommend having a small group of people (we are only f..."


Welcome Jana. I'm in a couple local book clubs and I like the discussions because everyone (usually) reads the books before the meeting! Apparently that's not so common. You can have deeper discussions when you don't worry about spoilers.

I liked the book better this time than the last time. Partly because I'm more appreciative of good writing than I used to be, and partly because the TV show enhanced certain parts of the story for me.

My husband and my mother all like the show too. This hasn't happened since Mad Men.

Are you planning to read The Testaments, or have you sworn off Margaret Atwood? I suspect she's an acquired taste.


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