The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Release: February 17, 1986
Publisher: Anchor Books
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…
There are many things I’m late to know about. The Handmaid’s Tale is definitely one of those things. Since it came out in 1986, I’m very late to this party. But, in my defense, I wasn’t born yet, so I think I should be given a pass.
In this dystopian classic, Offred is a Handmaiden to the Commander and his wife. She does her daily shopping with Ofglen and she does everything she’s supposed to do as a Handmaiden. Her life wasn’t always like this, she had a husband and a daughter, but then she lost access to her money, she lost her job, and when she tried to flee to Canada with her family, she was caught and taken to an academy of sorts to become a Handmaiden. Inside, she’s trained to obey and finds her friend, Moira, and they try to figure out an escape.
I decided to read this after reading Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. I found a review on Goodreads saying that Only Ever Yours was just a young adult version of The Handmaid’s Tale and I can see the strong similarities but also enjoy them both for different reasons.
I’ll admit that it was a bit slow for me in the beginning but the writing is beautiful and vivid. I didn’t realize how relevant this story would be while reading it. It’s terrifying – I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared while reading a book because there’s such a realness to it, a possibility that things can change and – ah, my mind is going weird places.
There are more things I want to read from Margaret Atwood and I’m excited to add some things to my TBR.