The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

There is nothing like reading an old book, it’s pages yellowed with age. I stumbled across a copy of the Handmaid’s Tale in my favourite second-hand book store and had been meaning to read it after hearing so many good things about it. The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of Offred, a woman living in the dystopian society of Gilead. A society where women have no rights, they are merely a possession with a role to fulfil. Offred’s role is that of a handmaiden. Her role is simply to pro-create. This book tells of her life trying to navigate this strict society with unyielding laws of how to act while also throwing back to her life before everything changed. A life where she has a husband and a daughter.

 

This book comes highly regarded and is referred to often. After reading The Heart Goes Last I was determined to read more of her work. Atwood is highly skilled at writing  powerful story. A story that is morally ambiguous and full of shades of grey. Her work is quite thought provoking, sitting with the reader well after the story has finished. This book in particular makes you wonder if anything like that could happen. You think surely not, but really who knows? I can appreciate the high acclaim that comes with this novel.

 

Unfortunately for me there was just a little something missing. I din’t know if it was because my expectations were too high after hearing so much? Or if in part my reading Charlotte Wood’s novel The Natural Way of Things so recently had affected it? The two books do have their similarities and yet I loved Wood’s novel and found it more relevant and relatable to today’s society than Atwoods. I did not end up with as much of a personal connection with Offred and found her narration quite impersonal at times.

 

Overall the book was very interesting. I thought the ending of the book was exceptional. Leaving you pondering Offred’s fate was a great move. I give the Handmaid’s Tale three red items of clothing that mark her as a handmaiden.

 

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