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The Handmaid's Tale Audiobook

The Handmaid's Tale

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Margaret Atwood’s modern classic is one of the most stunning and powerful works of speculative fiction ever written, and it took a lot of careful consideration to determine who would best narrate this important book. Claire Danes elevates the frightening dystopic vision by lending a sheen of reality with her performance. She doesn't act, and she doesn't need to. She recounts. She breathes out the tale as if she is living it. Resigned, beaten down, traveling through hell by putting one step ahead of the other. I was utterly convinced by her performance. —Emily

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award, Fiction, 2013

Margaret Atwood's popular dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender and religious politics. Multiple Golden Globe award-winner Claire Danes (Romeo and Juliet, The Hours) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time.

After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.

The Handmaid's Tale is part of Audible’s A-List Collection, featuring the world’s most celebrated actors narrating distinguished works of literature that each star had a hand in selecting. For more great books performed by Hollywood’s finest, click here.

©1985 Margaret Atwood (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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What the Critics Say

“Claire Danes sparkles in this performance…Danes’s Offred is complex, and her flashes of intense strength highlight her vulnerability. This is a consuming listen, thanks to Danes’s emotional subtleties.” (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (10474 )
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  •  
    Victoria 09-26-12
    Victoria 09-26-12 Member Since 2008

    RangerGirl

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "it might happen...."


    Sad, disturbing, borderline scary. What would I do?... But we human can adjust to just about anything... and there will always be love and the quest for belonging, for a touch and for an identity. Great, thought-provoking book. I wish the ending was more revealing...

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JASON R. Hollywood, FL United States 03-18-13
    JASON R. Hollywood, FL United States 03-18-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Society ends and nothing much happens..."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If there was any sense of the story going anywhere except around in cirlces.


    What was most disappointing about Margaret Atwood’s story?

    The fact that what little action exists (meaning anything to advance the plot) is mired in irrelevant flashback and endless introspection by the narrator. Listening to this story was frustrating because one needs to put up with a barrage of pointless observations, trivial references and constant reminiscing before the story takes even a half-step formward.


    Which character – as performed by Claire Danes – was your favorite?

    I don't recall ever falling asleep during any parts where Ms. Danes was performing as Aunt Lydia. However, that's not saying much. The rest of the characters were transparent to point of non-existence.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Handmaid's Tale?

    Although most of this book was easily forgettable the scenes in which the narrator recalled her mother were particularly hard to sit through.


    Any additional comments?

    I've rarely given up on a book no matter how bad because I always choose to believe that it's got to get better. For me to abandon this audiobook after paying what I consider to be a expensive price, shows how unpleasant listening to this audio book was for me.

    I think Claire Danes did as good a job as this material would allow her to do. Unfortunately, despite her talents, the story itself served as nothing more than a sleeping aid for me. I can't believe this book won the Arthur C. Clarke award.

    14 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Potter Washington D.C. 01-12-16
    A. Potter Washington D.C. 01-12-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Ug, is it just me?"
    Any additional comments?

    I can see why this book has received so many accolades; it’s a well-written and crafted dystopian story but it lacked character development. I never fell in love with the characters. I never even hated the characters. They were flat and robotic. This felt like required reading with a capital "R." I couldn't wait to finish it and end my misery.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nothing really matters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 07-15-15
    Nothing really matters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 07-15-15 Member Since 2016

    Rob Thomas

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    "Warning: stream of consciousness writing!"

    I read this book because it's on a number of top one hundred sci-fi novels lists. The story is interesting and has an original premise.

    That said, I'm not a fan (to put it mildly) of stream of consciousness writing. And this story is written largely in that style. I finished the book, but it was a struggle.

    I've read another Margaret Atwood novel and I'll probably get kicked out of Canada for saying this, but I'm not a big fan of her style. I know she has a huge following, but her writing is too literary for my simple tastes.

    If you don't mind stream of consciousness writing, you may enjoy this feminist dystopian tale.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karin W Austin, Tx 04-23-14
    Karin W Austin, Tx 04-23-14

    Scifi bibliophile

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    "Today's religious fundamentalists tomorrow"

    When looking at dystopian novels, the scariest part is looking at our present and seeing the seeds of it in our current society. The seeds of The Handmaid's Tale are in every fundamental religious home and community. It's in every child that is told to be obedient to God just because and every woman who is subservient to her husband because of scripture. It isn't far from there before woman are baby machines and kept ignorant for their own purity and good.

    On top of being eerily believable, the book is beautifully written. It's a classic that easily makes my list of best science fiction books ever written.

    Claire Danes was a wonderful choice for narration. While I can't say that I would want her to narrate any other books, I can say that she was absolutely the right choice for this one.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Cedar Grove, TN United States 03-09-14
    Deborah Cedar Grove, TN United States 03-09-14 Member Since 2001
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    "No purpose, no ending"

    Narrator did an excellent job. But other than that? I just didn't get it. There was no ending, nor purpose. Just a sort of diary of the handmaid and what a depressing, restricted, hopeless life she has. No closure. I was 1/2 through the audio book when it switched to "part 2". I considered quitting, but the rave reviews pushed me onward. Nope, don't get it. A total waste of time.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 11-22-13
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 11-22-13 Member Since 2013

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

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    "The Making of Gods"

    First of all, this book is out of my usual genre, but it is chillingly, amazingly one of the best audio books I have listened to. While I listened, I thought, wow, she has captured, without bias, the essence of life in the current times . . . single women sleeping with married men, without shame, lesbian relationships . . . JUST DESCRIBED them . . . no judgement, no hate, no opinion whatsoever. Night clubs, college days, magazines, all the things in the BEFORE time . . . and then everything changed. Then the US government was overthrown, and the state of Gilead began. What is so engaging and refreshing about this book is the author's ability to suss out tiny bits of truth, which you have to really listen to catch. Before the take over of the government, Bibles were freely available, in every hotel room night stand. Afterward, they are locked up, only for the Commanders to read, and then only on special occasions. Scripture is taken completely out of context. Hymns of mercy and grace are banned in Gilead. The handmaid wistfully remembers churches and the freedom to sing in the BEFORE time. She spends a lot of time examining her own life before and after. The relationships formed by the handmaids is touching and encouraging to me. That mercy and love survives in times of persecution, in fact thrives during it, is the evidence of a God who never forsakes those who are suffering. There are strong parallels between the Jews in World War II and this fictional Gilead, as well as between the extreme treatment of women in the Muslim faith. Evil is evil. Period. There is nothing Christian about Gilead, let's make that clear. People have been doing evil in the name of God for centuries. What they did and are still doing is making themselves into mini gods . . . and yes, this could happen, even here in the USA.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elle (AKA PlantCrone) in the great NorthWest OREGON 10-30-13

    ELLE aka PlantCrone of the Great Pacific Northwest. I enjoy almost every genre-S/F, Action, Biographies and Histories & Romance

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    "Not Every Book Has A Hollywood Ending"

    Nor is every story meant to end with a Disneyland version of reality. All isn't well at the end of "The Handmaids Tale".
    Thats the point, people...and I'm astounded at the reviews that complained there was "No Action" No Ending." Hollywood and most chick stories have forced us to believe that all will be well in the end. Happily ever after rules.

    Well..no it doesn't. In "Handmaids Tale" the story simply ends and it's even more effective in that abrupt finish. Atwood knows her primary readership has the intelligence to realize that without it continuing to strive for equality all women will suffer in the end. For each Malala there are 100 more who don't live thru the fatwa. If you haven't read or listened to "I am Malala" and you need a encouraging story, I suggest you read/listen that that wonderful book. It's not "Handmaids Tale" however.
    Or read Sherri S. Tepper's "Gate to Womans Country", a different take on a dystopian future and just as dramatic. That has a sort of happy ending, however I don't believe it's on Audible as of 2013..sadly.

    Claire Danes is a wonderful, emotive narrator....she brought a much loved and reverred book to life for me. Thanks Ms. Danes for bringing OfFred to the world, for bringing Serena-Joy to the most sympathetic view possible and for bringing the Marthas into a reality I wouldn't want but would be compelled to live, were this to take place tomorrow...and it could. Thats the frightening thing. It could happen! And soon, if things change just a bit in our country. In the novel, OfFred remembers 'today' as we know it now but lives in a terrible 'tomorrow' with no change in sight.

    Be you a woman or man..this is a wonderful novel to consider if literature is a than sci-fi viable part of your reading...not a lot of action..it isn't Stephen King. The end is abrupt and doesn't wind up in a bow like a pretty package..it isn't Nora Roberts. It's more sci-Fantasy than sic-fi but isn't werewolves or dragons. I'd compare it to 1984 more than Wind-Up Girl.

    This is a horrible possibility for the work we live in should the word 'rights' come to mean something different than it does now.

    Well worth your credit or purchase..on sale now!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 08-28-13
    Laura 08-28-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointing"

    This book has been on my wish list for some time. I was just waiting for the right opportunity. So well reviewed! Arthur C. Clarke award. It all sounded amazing, including the synopsis.

    I am 3/4 of the way through and I am ready to give up. I remember now why Margaret Atwood was on my blacklist from about 12 years ago. It's all coming back to me.

    There is hardly any plot progression. The narration is first person and meanders through an ENDLESS internal dialogue with incessant flashbacks, meanwhile, in the present tense - nothing is happening. Everything is unnecessarily over-described. Every thought, every emotion, every item in the room. The clock, the mantle, the wallpaper in the bathroom (Small flowers, forget-me-nots, purple). I don't need car chases, hijacks and bombs, but this is just exasperating.

    I get the symbolism, the eggs, the eyes, the flowers. I get the themes, but it all seems like tokenism. They all seem 'glued onto the outside'.

    When I come back to the book, I am rewinding and forwarding through the book, all to try to find the place where I was the last time I listened, to remember what was happening, who did what, who said what, even though it was 4 hours ago when I last listened. There are no plot points to attach a memory to.

    I would press on, but I read the ending was a disappointment too...so I am in a dilemma.

    I think I just don't like her writing style. 90% of the plot happened in the past and is meted out in tiny portions and almost nothing happens in the present, which is slow and overly descriptive. Not my thing.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenda CENTRAL POINT, OR, United States 06-01-13
    Brenda CENTRAL POINT, OR, United States 06-01-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "That's It?!"

    Claire Danes narration is flawless and totally believable. The story sort of grabs you and leads you down a path but the ending---no...that can not be the end...I went back and looked for another section---nothing...I back up the player to see if I missed something--nope...the end is just the end- no resolution, no nothing- just a good-bye-that's-all. Somebody should really finish the story.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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