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The Handmaid's Tale (The Handmaid's Tale, #1)
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GROUP READS > November FICTION selection THE HANDMAID'S TALE

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Alexa (AlexaNC) This month's fiction selection is Margaret Atwood's masterpiece, The Handmaid's Tale. There is so much to discuss about this!


Alexa (AlexaNC) When I first read this it absolutely wowed me. I remember picking it up in an airport, knowing absolutely nothing about it. That was an amazingly lucky impulse purchase!


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El | 756 comments Mod
I've read this books a few times (the first was required reading at my college when I was a freshman), most recently just a couple months ago for my real-life book club. The discussion there, unfortunately, wasn't very satisfying because we had one guy there who pooh-poohed absolutely anything anyone said. He hated the book so much, which I think says a lot about him.

So I hope to see what others think of the book. Like Alexa said, there's a lot to be discussed! I don't want to rush anyone though. :)


Alexa (AlexaNC) It would be hard to discuss this kind of speculative fiction with someone who just wasn't interested in any of the implications. How disappointing that must have been! And stifling too.

I find a chilling reality to this, and am even more chilled by the fact that the impact for me hasn't lessened at all in the years since I first read it.


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William Galaini (williamgalaini) | 15 comments I read this in college, and it blew me away. In some ways it inspired my second novel Withered Zion in that it was a theocracy.

Not only is it thoughtful and poignant, but it is so lushly written. I will always be jealous of Atwood's ability.


Sabreen | 5 comments I read this book last year after reading so many people on here praising it, and I'm going to read it again for women's studies class later this month.

It was haunting. There are so many aspects of the dystopia that are not actually that far from the way women are treated in many parts of the world today


Taylor (seffietay) Tragic that one knobhead ruined the whole discussion, El! I too am completely swept away every time I read Atwood, she is so incredibly adept at language. I loved this book for many reasons and can't wait to see what everyone else thought. Lots of different points for discussion.


Karine (ksngm) | 2 comments I didn't know much about this book before I read it a few years ago. I loved it. It's so unsettling. I was hooked from the beginning. One of my favourites.


Paulina I just read it (for the first time, sorry, guys!). Picking up Margaret Atwood usually takes me some time since she's quite difficult to read. But I loved it. (This is basically the usual way with her books - I wait for a long time and then love it utterly).

Do any of you know whether there was a specific inspiration for this? Or was it just the idea of a totalitarian state in general?

I'm also interested in what you guys think of what happened in the end. I found it really interesting that the professor in the end passage preferred the notion that she was rescued whereas she says at some point, of Nick:

Impossible to think that anyone for whom I felt such gratitude could betray me.

And she keeps mentioning she talks too much; that she's slipping up. I remember this passage chilling me when I read it and interpreting it as a kind of foreshadowing. What do you think?


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El | 756 comments Mod
Revitalizing an old thread to include this article in The Root from Jan 2018. No one is without flaws and it's good to recognize where even some of our favorite works of art (paintings, music, literature, etc.) are also flawed. I may not necessarily agree with everything in the article, but glad to have another perspective to consider.

As I stated somewhere else when this article was brought to my attention (thanks, Justyna!), I always felt with THT that the lack of POC was related to the fact that, historically (even today) it's the voices of POC that are shut down the fastest and most dramatically. I may have inferred into the reading of Atwood's book that that had taken place in Gilead, that POC were essentially removed from that society entirely. Again, though, Atwood may not have explicitly stated that, but that was how I read it (which may or may not be correct). Whereas I felt the lack of POC was intentional, it's entirely possible that Atwood never considered that at all, and that's a damn shame.

I know we read this book almost four years ago now, but feel free to discuss now as well. I haven't watched the Hulu adaptation but, according to this article, they didn't make quite enough changes for the screen that they should have.


Outis Atwood clearly considered that seeing that the text refers to Gilead's racist policies. We touched on this in another thread. How could it have been unintentional for a caricature of WASP supremacism to feature the extermination of blacks as well as the extermination of catholics?
It's funny that Handmaid's Tale is brought up as exhibit A in an attempt to paint Atwood as a "white feminist" when the book includes an attack on feminists. As a conservative, Atwood was critical of feminists who rocked the boat back in the day and is likewise critical of such feminists now.


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El | 756 comments Mod
Outis wrote: "We touched on this in another thread."

Ah, was that in the thread for The Power? I haven't read the book yet and wanted to wait until I do so before diving into the thread.


Outis Yeah. The Power's invited the comparison with Handmaid's Tale so the topic was going to come up one way or another. You haven't missed any great insight in my opinion.
It's kind of sad that Handmaid's Tale is so misunderstood. The TV show isn't helping (they removed much of the political content).


Cassandra (cassandrat) I liked this book, but at the end find myself wondering if I should have just read a biography of the underground railroad. I felt that the story kind of appropriated that experience.


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