This great story is made fresh and wonderful again by the narration of Claire Danes. Don't miss it. It is the best.
I generally liked this book and would be interested in reading similar books. I am glad I bought and read this one!
Clare Danes was BRILLIANT narrating this story and what a story it is. I cannot recommend this tale enough and I was left wanting to know what happens next at the end of the story. The majority of the characters are loathsome and the main character, Offred, is so frustratingly naive that it breaks your heart.
Feminist, Dystopia, Terrifying
If you enjoy books such as Divergent, the Hunger Games, 1984, or any other dystopian future novels you will like this book. It is terrifyingly plausible and told as an intimate, personal fictional memoir.
This book will stay with me forever. The feminist in me is outraged and wants to scream. The reader in me is thrilled with the way it kept me intrigued from start to finish. Claire Danes is an outstanding narrator.
More recordings from Claire!
I could see how it all happened, how easy it would be to fall into that world.
As a woman, I felt that I could really connect with the narrator's fears, concerns, tiny joys, etc.
Claire Danes did a wonderful job narrating this novel. I often forgot it was her!
The novel made me think, which is the most powerful thing a book can do, in my opinion.
I've found it difficult to give a synopsis to my friends, but I absolutely recommend the book. I'm looking forward to listening to it again in the future, a I'm sure there are many small details I missed the first time around.
Set in the United States after a nuclear holoocaust leaving the vast majority dead or sterile, The Handmaid's Tale is a glimpse beyond the looking glass into a world almost too terrifying to comprehend. Narrated through the eyes of Offred, a brood mare for the Commander, Atwood paints a vivid tale about the horrors of misogyny under a theocratic dictatorship.
The writing is gripping and sharp. Brutally descriptive (yet minimalistic) sentences underscore the profound inhumanity of societies that have abandoned compassion in favour of mere pragmatic, practical, ends-justify-the-means policies that have rendered half of the population to act as expendable labour for the other half. Sleep is not always readily available, and the hangman's noose is never more than a failed duty away.
Women, save those fortunate enough to be pregnant or married to those in authority, are treated as abject slaves, valued only for their instrumental values. Thusly treated as means, they are preserved rather than respected. All means for suicide such as ceiling fans and hooks have been painstakingly removed. For that matter, so are their names, with the women being referred to only with respect to their owners. Offred. Ofglen. Even a woman's name, Martha, has been appropriated for use as maids. Their station signifies their lack of fertility, which has led to a loss in her value in this futuristic living nightmare. Individuality has been all but eradicated, and gossip is now a luxury. The parallels with the world today, especially the Middle East, are too obvious to overlook, and this is probably intentional. The audiobook is impeccable, with Claire Danes' deadpan reading adding near-copious quantities of tension and foreboding to the mix.
Before being allowed to leave the "boarding house", Offred is required to don garments that shroud her from sight. Her rank is designated by her the colour of her dress, red. If her Commander was to tire of his wife and elect Offred for this honour, she would be garbed in blue. The Commander himself wears black. If that wasn't enough, she is perpetually shadowed by another human incubator, who functions as her spy. Offred, likewise, functions as her companion's spy. Things only get worse as the details of this alternate/possible future are revealed. Each new page is akin to a door inside an authentic haunted house. From the first chapter, a sense that there are no happy endings for these oppressed slaves is engraved into the reader's consciousness.
This is a must-have book, and belongs beside 1984 and Brave New World. This apotheosis of literary talent should not be overlooked.
First- full disclosure: I'm a fan of the book. I'd read it just a few years after it came out when I was probably a freshman in high school; it made an indelible impression on me and I think Margaret Atwood is a flippin' GENIUS. I think it should be required reading for every human being in North America.
My daughter, in her mid-teens, loves audiobooks. She is a great reader as well; however, she will only very occasionally take a book recommendation from her mum. I got this audiobook in the hopes that she *might* listen to it if I put it on her iPod.
Claire Danes hasn't been a favorite of mine - it isn't that I *don't* like her.....I just missed "my So-Called Life" age wise & I can't recall seeing her in anything since "Romeo & Juliet" (I haven't watched much tv since 1997). I was skeptical if Ms. Danes could do this material (that's so important to me) justice, but I hoped my daughter would enjoy it.....
One evening I couldn't sleep & I had no more credits so I decided to give it a try - AMAZING. I hadn't re-read "The Handmaid's Tale" in 20+ years and listening to it again now was not only chilling but I was dumbfounded at Atwood's prescience (just check out Ms. magazines' recent articles about the War against Women). And Claire Danes? She inhabits this narrative, gives such a strong, nuanced performance that I cannot BELIEVE she didn't win the Audie for this. Danes reading Atwood is a golden example of how audiobooks can be so much better than reading a book yourself; great writing paired with great reading is sublime.
I still don't know if my daughter has listened to it - I pray that she does. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE
Interesting possibility of things to come
The thought of being punished for your freedom to think
In the year 2075
This book is iconic and cuts to the core.
The moments of inhuman cruelty. Obvious poetic skill and ease of description of environments.
No but I was impressed by her skill although to be fair most of the story is in the first person so relatively easy compared to other stories. Her voice is well suited to the main character.
I don't think this story is about the characters really, it's more about the situation.
The story reminds me of a story called "Blindness" by José Saramago. Blindness is a more rounded story with points of joy and hope unlike this story which is mostly bleak and overly realistic.
I skipped the last section as it was too academic to be interesting, more like an extended footnote.
As many others have written summaries, I will write about the quality of the novel.
First off, I loved The Handmaid's Tale. I would describe it as having an etherial quality, as the story comes together slowly in a stream of conscious manner. You're constantly moving from memory to memory, which makes the whole read very engaging and very suspenseful. But as a good portion of the experiences are described as having already passed, it also feels very lethargic, as though the narrator really has nothing better to do. Which, as you listen to the book, you realize she doesn't. It's really wonderful.
I will also note that this book makes social commentary on the role of women in society, and also how men perceive them. It also talks a bit about what we feel is normal, and how quickly that can change. But I will reiterate, this is commentary. Atwood has created a world that allows her to ask these questions, but she doesn't say explicitly what is right and what is wrong. Making this a very good thinking book, I would highly recommend this to individuals and book clubs alike!
My only critique of this book would be that the ending feels to come about a little fast, and a little haphazard. It feels as though Atwood, having used all her characters for their intended purposes, no longer knows what to do with them, and tosses them about hither and yon. That being said, I will still listen to this book again and again, wonderful narration!