SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
I read The Handmaid's Tale quite some time ago but read such amazing reviews of Clare Danes I was drawn into getting the audible version. What a breathtaking experience.
In the first place, Margaret Atwood's world building abilities here really shine. Everything is covered in the country of Gilead, the lead up to the overthrow of the world as we know it, the new political structure, religion, tension outlets (via partaking in executions) for the Handmaids, daily life and the lack of reading opportunities for women as they shop (all in pictures: mustn't have literate women!), and a shady underworld that shows that, for the powerful, things are just as seedy as they've ever been. So much thought has been put into every scene, every image, it's almost impossible not to be drawn in by it all, totally blown away by the world we get to walk through. I really, really appreciate being completely pulled into stories, and it's very rare. Hell, it's five-star rare!
I've never been a huge fan of Clare Danes, didn't dislike her mind you, simply have never thought much of her one way or another. But her delivery of the story is heartbreaking, moving, confusing: she completely inhabits the skin, the very soul and spirit of Offred (and it was genius on Atwood's part that we never know her name, though it's alluded to). As one other reviewer pointed out, she is the character, she is the story, down to the inhalation of a puff of a cigarette. How can you not find that to be a sheer delight? How can you not be that person yourself?
Treat yourself to this book. I'm not an Everything-Atwood kind of person, but this book is written so fluidly, with such beautiful metaphors, and such powerful word choices, it's hard not to shout it from the rooftops. With Danes at the helm, guiding is through, it's a five-star home run, well worth the credit, well worth the time. Brava to both women!
This book is sadistic at best. A society has been created that has evolved into religious extremism. A gross interpretation of the biblical passage concerning Hagar's role to provide an heir for Abraham (along with a perverse literal description of the act itself) was what caused me to stop listening. It's no wonder that the heroin of the story wanted to escape. I hope she succeeded but frankly I did not want to take the journey to find out.
Sorry, but this book was too weird to even try to put into words. So why, you ask, would I listen to the book in its entirety? The superb narration by Claire Danes. If Audible does not have her under contract, shame on them! She was perfect - the only reason to stay with this wacky tale.
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
I found this to be a pointless and depressing book. The characters are very human in their frailties and susceptibility to Political Correct thinking. I can see echoes of our own society in this book, but what I see is coming from the statists already in power and not from the religious wing of the populace. Hypocrisy is, of course, a theme in any such work, and, ironically, this one gets quite preachy when it comes to the dangers of religiosity. Several times the subject of the abolishment of abortion is raised as if it were some great symbolic tragedy indicative of the decline of the America that once was. I found the protagonist to be as sort of anti-heroine. She does not inspire us to greatness. But her plight does cause us to reflect on what we might do in similar circumstances. No causes are offered. No solutions. The life of the Handmaid is pointless.
Clare Danes is a fine reader. I found her narration quite droll and sarcastic throughout which fits the text. After a few chapters her voice warms up and some emotion occasionally creeps into the text.
This story was ok. Unfortunately the writing felt a little too poetic for me, and the storyline wasn't the most adventurous. Although, to be fair, I have read several memoirs about polygamy so perhaps my senses have been dulled on that subject.
Also, as a mildly autistic woman I could not relate to the main character. For any autistic folks reading this, the character's thoughts seemed to be (by my imagination) stereotypically neurotypical: multi-layered, socially-focused and feelings-oriented. Of course that's just my opinion, others may really enjoy that sort of thing.
I give the narrator 4 stars. I would have given her three because I prefer narrators that are a tad on the monotone side, so I bumped it up a star because that's an odd preference to have. At times she spoke with some emotion as if she were the main character herself, which was distracting to me. Also, as an aside, I hadn't realized before how much Claire Danes sounds like Scarlett Johansson. I kept picturing Ms. Johansson as the main character and then picturing Ms. Danes reading the book to me.
So all in all, if you think in pictures and have read many polygamy books this book might be just ok. If you like poetic writing and feelings and people, you might really enjoy this book.
I am rarely at a loss for words, particularly after a good read. Woah! Fascinating, frightening, exquisitely written, and captivating, are just a few of the words I'd give this book. Atwood nails every aspect of dystopian storytelling with vividness, while weaving in very familiar elements of physical reality. This is well-done in steroids!
Atwood writes beautifully. The story left a lot to be desired. Claire Danes didn't have much story to work with, however, I would definitely listen to her reading again.
This was a great dystopian novel, not at all what I had expected from the title when it was recommended to me by a friend. I enjoyed the story until the outrageously ambiguous ending. But if you like dystopian novels and don't mind endings that don't actually end, you'll love this book.