This is in the top two books I have listened to. I bought this as a Deal of Day because I love Claire Danes. The story is amazing and her narrtion was spot on. I can't believe I had never heard of this book before, but once I mentioned it to a few friends they all told me how much they loved it. I was afraid this might set my expectations too high, but I was not disappointed at all.
It really made me think of Going Clear- the story does not seem that far fetched when compared to small factions of religious extremism we see today. Up against what is reported about oppression occurring today in Saudi Arabia, Scientology or polygamous cults, this book is terrifyingly plausible.
Her tone was perfect. She showed the right amount of emotion at the appropriate moments. At first it didn't really sound like how I remembered her voice being. But then I was probably thinking of her in My So Called Life from my teen years, so it isn't surprising that she sounds much more grown up now.
I definitely was left wanting more, just a few more minutes each time I had to put the audibook down for a bit. I really wish there was a sequel, but in a way that might mess up the perfect ending to this book.
Originally posted at: A Girl that Likes Books
Why I read this book
Last year (2013) I read my first book from Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman, and loved it. The way she threw fiction elements while making a very impressive critique of society was amazing for me, and so I wanted to keep reading her work. The Handmaid's Tale has been mentioned several times as an iconic part of her work and when I saw it on my recommended on Audible it was a no brainer to get myself a copy.
What the book is about
The book is set in a dystopian future, taking place mostly in what used to be Massachusetts. After a "terrorist" attack, a theocratic, Christian regime has taken over. Women have lost any right they might've had and all "sinners" (homosexuals, people who committed adultery, people of other faiths) have been either killed or "re educated" (are you cringing already?) . The story is told by a woman we learn to know as Offred, this implying that she is a possession of a man with Fred on his surname. Offred has been made a Handmaid which in this new country, more than servant, implies child bearer. It is explained through the book that due to chemical contamination, radiation and other factors, procreation has been in declined in the country, and hence the government have established that officials not only have a wife, but also access to women (the handmaids) that will carry their child, sort off surrogate mothers. After delivery, the child is given to the wife to raise. Offred's destiny depends on her submission and her ability to bear children.
Listening to this book was hard, mostly because of the way women are treated, but also because you feel that this speculative work of fiction could easily take place again (references to other theocratic regimes are easily spotted, particularly Iran). Jumps from present to past are sometimes abrupt, but it carries a good feeling of how train of thought sometimes takes place and, in my case at least, makes the connection with the protagonist even deeper. That type of writing made me feel pain, angst and helplessness as Offred was feeling them too.
Is hard for me to put into words my final thoughts. See, I have a lot of feelings when I think of this book, but they are not easy to put into paper, simply because they touch so deep. But let's try.
I felt rage as a woman, at to how women were treated. I've read some other reviews saying "well this would never happen; oh our society would never let this happen to women". And yet look at all the contraception legislation in the USA, most of the definitions are being taken by male politicians, and people are going with it.
I felt afraid of this being a plausible thing, maybe not right now where I am, but somewhere in the world there is right now a totalitarian movement, feeding, slowly maybe, and growing and getting more and more powerful. There are things that seem to happen suddenly when you are far away, but is just because you weren't in site to see the tiny changes that carried a big one. And this applies to any type of changes, positive or negative, particularly since this label is so subjective. The critic about how money was not physical anymore hit a stroke in me. I never thought about how I rely on plastic more and more. Not on credit, but I use my debit card most of the time and hence my contact with physical money has been decreasing more and more.
I felt sad at the different situations Offred had to go through, leaving her past behind, having so many memories, so many loved ones that she lost, almost overnight.
I felt a bit frustrated at the end of the book, because I wanted more closure, but at the same time, the way the author rounds the whole thing up, made me "forgive" the not knowing.
I loved Claire Danes as a narrator. At first I thought her tone was a bit flat, but this was at very beginning when the character was just stating facts. As emotions surged, as different characters appeared, so did new tones, new inflictions in her voice that made me get more into the whole story.
Nobody dies of lack of sex, is lack of love we die from
Claire Danes gives the narrator a chilling real-life quality in this war/post war dystopia. A great selection if you are looking for a beautiful and tragic novel.
An interesting book - interesting look at the future. However, do NOT expect action. At first I thought this would be sort of like Hunger Games and kept waiting for "things"to get going. However, once I got over my preconceptions I found I enjoyed the book.
The last chapter is boring, and a waste. The story of this woman deserved a much better finale. The author jumps right into this confusing tale, without warning. She continues to jump around throughout.
The quasi historical lecture at the end, it was unnecessary and boring. The author could have made this a much better story by following with the woman's story to the end.
Claire Dane's was the best part of this book.
Ready for the next stage.
It had amazing imagery without overdoing the descriptions.
The writing style reminded me of Toni Morrison (without the overt racial tones).
The scene describing the readers first encounter with the handmaids real purpose. When The Wife, The Captain, and The Handmaid are all on the bed. The colors and shapes of their bodies create a detailed picture all while creating a essential scene to understanding the story.
Definitely from Claire Danes; not so sure about M. Atwood
I bought it because of the narrator (as well as the reputaion of the author) but the story was just too science fiction"y" for me and I really didn't "get" it.
Would have abandoned the book early on if not for the narration
I've said it all.
Leave the celebrities at home! I love listening to books and am exasperated by the need for celebrities to insert their personalities into what is not theirs, leave the book reading to some of the wonderful narrators. Her voice and inflection was distracting and annoying and hard to get past to enjoy the story.
It's an interesting premise from a very interesting perspective. The author allows you to get close to your character in a way they are unable to get close to other characters in the story, which procures a personal relationship you share with the protagonist.
She did an excellent job with all the characters.
No, but that is because the difficulty of reading some parts that evoked a deep empathy for the protagonist. I needed a break from her world and her interpretation of that world.
This is an excellent book, and a wonderful audio book.
very interesting story
Thinking that it could happen now
It took me a while to get into the book, but once I was caught, it was in until the end.