In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of Gilead’s commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive. At once a scathing satire, an ominous warning, and a tour de force of narrative suspense, The Handmaid’s Tale is a modern classic.
I usually read a book before watching the movie, but I watched the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale before I read the book. I like dystopian novels so I expected to like this book at least as much as the series. Unfortunately, this is one of those cases that the movie (or Hulu series) is better than the book.
Even though there are many similarities between the two, I found the book difficult to read. I couldn’t connect with Offred and there were pages of rambling that didn’t add to the story. It is presented as Offred’s musings, observations, and memories.
Although I was disappointed in The Handmaid’s Tale, I may still read the sequel when it comes out. It sounds like it’s going to be based on the Hulu presentation so it may be easier to read (I’m keeping my fingers crossed).
About the Author
MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.