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The Handmaid's Tale (The Handmaid's Tale, #1)
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Previous Monthly Reads > November 2014 Monthly Read: The Handmaid's Tale

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Emma Flanagan (emma89) This is the discussion thread for our November Monthly Read, The Handmaid's Tale


Sara | 2357 comments Mod
For everyone who has Audible, this is available there read by the actress Clare Danes (My So Called Life, Homeland, several movies, etc.). It's sat in my library unlisted for exactly a year as of tomorrow! While I've previously read the book 2 or 3 times, I look forward to doing this reread via audiobook. I should finish Not My Father's Son: A Memoir on today or tomorrow's commute, and then will start this.


message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 28, 2014 07:53AM) (new)

Thanks to Sara's prompt I checked out my library and The Handmaids Tale is available as an audio download. :) This version is narrated by Joanna David (Downton), and I'll start it at the weekend. It's a very long time since I last read the book and hopefully it will be as enjoyable as as on first reading.


Serf You'd recommend this then Sara? It doesn't sound like my kind of read


Sara | 2357 comments Mod
It's very good. I would mark it as one of the classics of dystopian literature. Emma's review is spot on, so I'm going to quote it here,

"I've read a few dystopian novels, mainly young adult ones (Hunger Games, Divergent etc) and while there was a sense the events they depict could happen, they seem a remote possiblity. The Handmaids Tale on the other hand seems entirely plausible. Atwood creates a truly unnerving tale of what could happen following some disaster, presumably war, combined with a rise in power of religious fantics, a world in which a government is easily overthrown and a constitution is suspended. Written nearly 30 years ago some elements may appear dated but it does not reduce the impact of the book. Its the kind of book which will leave you unable to read anything for days as your mind processes what you've read. If you have any interest in dystopian novels this is a must read classic, and even if you don't normally enjoy dystopian novels I would thoroughly recommend it."

It is very bleak though, so if you don't like depressing books, it may not be your cup of tea.


Emma Flanagan (emma89) It's a book I would recommend every one at least give a shot. It's also not that long.


Colleen | 1205 comments I haven't read this book in years but it has stayed with me..I will try to reread it again and see if it still terrorizes me as much as it did the first time.Sara you are so right that it feels like it could happen.Did anyone every see the movie ?


Emma Flanagan (emma89) There's a movie?! I may have to see if I can find that.


Paul I saw copies of the movie on Amazon. Quite dodgy looking to be honest


Colleen | 1205 comments Haha Paul the cover art is really low quality but the movie isn't bad.In fact there is a scene in the movie that was quite alarming and comparisons could be made of a past era.


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

Sara | 2357 comments Mod
I agree with Collen. The movie was pretty good (although not as good as the book). The screen play was actually written by Harold Pinter, and the movie stars several famous actors like Natasha Richardson, Fay Dunaway, and Robert Duvall.


message 12: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Flanagan (emma89) Yeah I looked it up last night on IMDB. It had a fairly strong cast.


message 13: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Sutter | 48 comments I saw the movie; my library carries copies of the DVD. It is impressive, and creepy because it's a very realistic scenario. I won't say why, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who isn't familiar with it, but as an American surrounded by some pretty extreme political beliefs, I can see this happening some time in the future.


Donna McCaul Thibodeau (celtic_donna) | 1141 comments I saw the movie when it came out, after reading the book. I must not have been that impressed by it, as I don't recall any of the film but the book has stayed with me for decades. I look forward to rereading it.


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

Emma Flanagan (emma89) Glad you are enjoying it Ianie


message 16: by Serf (new) - rated it 4 stars

Serf I just read that this book is banned in high schools, makes me want to read it even more


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

Cphe | 0 comments I read this a while ago and I also agree that it is a book that stays with you.


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

Sara | 2357 comments Mod
I've opened up a spoiler thread. I'll be commenting in it later today :o).


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

Emma Flanagan (emma89) I did a google of The Handmaids Tale and came across a few articles which may interest people. Here are two reviews of the book, the other articles I've posted in the spoiler thread as they have the potential to be slightly spoilery.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010...

http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-...


Donna McCaul Thibodeau (celtic_donna) | 1141 comments Thanks for those, Emma. I'm about half way through and have been totally sucked back into the world of Offred and the other Handmaids.


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

Emma Flanagan (emma89) It is very engrossing. Once I got into it I couldn't put it down.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I am about half way through and enjoying the book, however the village bonfire is about to be lit so it's fireworks and fun in the village tonight :)


message 23: by Serf (new) - rated it 4 stars

Serf Enjoy the fireworks Theresa :)


Marcia | 437 comments I've just started it and finding it interesting.


message 25: by Serf (new) - rated it 4 stars

Serf About 100 pages in and not sure if I like the way it just flicks between today and the past and her dreams as you are reading it. It's a bit helter skelter


Elanna | 31 comments I'll get it tomorrow and I'll start reading straight away... It's the first time I take part to a reading with this group since I moved to Ireland, it was about time :D


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

Emma Flanagan (emma89) @Seraphina I didn't mind that aspect. I liked that we got glimpses of her life before, and it seemed natural given the situation she is in that she would reflect back on her previous life.


message 28: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Flanagan (emma89) @Seraphina I didn't mind that aspect. I liked that we got glimpses of her life before, and it seemed natural given the situation she is in that she would reflect back on her previous life.


message 29: by Serf (new) - rated it 4 stars

Serf Oh I agree completely Emma. I just don't particularly like the way she does it mid paragraph. I would like it more defined but I'm still enjoying the overall story.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Normally I'm not fond of narratives that chop and change timelines but barely noticed it with this as it seemed so natural. Perhaps, Seraphina, it's one of those books to take a run at and read in biggish chunks, which given the demands on your time won't be easy.


Marcia | 437 comments I like the way she keeps thinking about her past because for me it emphasises the fact that she's bored and has nothing to think about.... It has a very somber tone. I think the fact that the book flicks back to the past mid paragraph shows that these thoughts are popping up in her mind... you know when your walking along and you see something and it triggers a memory.


message 32: by Serf (new) - rated it 4 stars

Serf I get what you mean Marcia, it just doesn't make for easy reading. I find myself having to go back over sentences to figure out where are we now, past, present or crazy dream faze.


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

Emma Flanagan (emma89) I would agree with Theresa, it's not something I particularly picked up on.


Cathleen | 2409 comments Emma wrote: "I did a google of The Handmaids Tale and came across a few articles which may interest people. Here are two reviews of the book, the other articles I've posted in the spoiler thread as they have th..."

Hi Emma,
Thanks so much for these articles. I've just started reading the novel, so I'll read them once I've gotten a little further into it. I'm still trying to get the gist of this book. I'm finding it very intriguing so far--and it's not something I normally would have picked up.


message 35: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Flanagan (emma89) There is a quiz in the Guardian today on Margaret Atwood. How coincidental

http://www.theguardian.com/books/quiz...


message 36: by Serf (new) - rated it 4 stars

Serf Can anyone tell me how do the women get chosen to be martha's? Is it just that they couldn't bear children?
I thought the historical notes would explain more than they did.


message 37: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Flanagan (emma89) Its unclear how anyone other then the handmaidens get selected.


message 38: by Sara (last edited Nov 18, 2014 01:57PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara | 2357 comments Mod
I thought it was because they were infertile. The younger of the Marthas in the house Offred is in comments at one point that she could have been a handmaid if she hadn't gotten her tubes tied. Infertile women who are married to someone rich are Wives.

I also thought that the historical notes were meant to raise more questions than answer them.


message 39: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara | 2357 comments Mod
A couple Margaret Atwood pieces from BookRiot. Today is her 75th birthday.

http://bookriot.com/2013/09/03/readin...

http://bookriot.com/2014/11/18/75-rea...


Cathleen | 2409 comments So, I'm around page 140, and this has to be one of the most unsettling books I've ever read. I haven't gone to the spoiler thread yet, but I'm very curious about the status of the "Wives" as well as the Handmaids, and how any of them would ever consent to this. But, then again, maybe that's the point.


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

Emma Flanagan (emma89) Unsettling is probably the best summation of the book


message 42: by Tara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tara | 118 comments Cathleen wrote: "So, I'm around page 140, and this has to be one of the most unsettling books I've ever read. I haven't gone to the spoiler thread yet, but I'm very curious about the status of the "Wives" as well ..."

I'm about half way through the book too Cathleen and it is a dark, somewhat depressing tale (I'm in Ireland at the moment after coming from NZ so possibly the shorter darker days and the fact Im reading in the middle of the night due to jet lag may contribute!). I think as an avid reader like all of us here, the thought of not being able to read or write would be devastating, imagine the boredom and the total lack of control over our lives. As Emma's review said it is nonetheless believable and some women today do live under similar circumstances. Looking forward to finishing the book and discussing in the spoiler thread.


Cathleen | 2409 comments Tara wrote: "Cathleen wrote: "So, I'm around page 140, and this has to be one of the most unsettling books I've ever read. I haven't gone to the spoiler thread yet, but I'm very curious about the status of the..."

Yes, I'm eager to finish the book, too. Right now, I'm mulling over the Commander's role. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish it by the end of this week.


Marcia | 437 comments I found it to be a very easy book to read. It move along very quickly.


Allan I didn't end up reading this, but the latest episode of 'A Good Read' includes a discussion on the novel, so I thought I'd share the link.

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/r...


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