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The Handmaid's Tale | [Margaret Atwood]

The Handmaid's Tale

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name....
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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.

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

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Performance
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  •  
    JulietHopeWayne 01-05-15
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    "Best Audiobook I've heard"
    Would you listen to The Handmaid's Tale again? Why?

    I wanted to listen to it over again right when it ended. Margaret Atwood so perfectly and believably writes the narrator's inner thoughts. So realistic and fresh.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    It's easy to like Moira- the energetic, resourceful lesbian. But this book isn't about liking characters-and Claire Danes brings something distinct to each character it's hard not to be drawn in even if you hate them.


    What does Claire Danes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She just SELLS it. Even though you can't see her, she fully embodies each character when she reads their lines. Sometimes I had to backtrack and listen again because she can so completely sound like another actor entirely. Old bastards, traumatized young women, snooty backstabbing old biddies, the myriad of emotions Offred goes through from the old, carefree way of life to her "reduced circumstances."


    If you could take any character from The Handmaid's Tale out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Offred so I could hear more, I guess.


    Any additional comments?

    It's going to be tough to find an audiobook that lives up to this one. The "a-list" series looks a little thin, and I wonder if they let the actors and actresses pick their own titles.

    It would not surprise me if Claire Danes had picked this one. There are a lot of similarities between the themes here and on Homeland (double spies, trying to overthrow totalitarian leaders, women in peril, public executions, how the human mind adapts to extreme circumstances).

    Even though Atwood wrote this in the mid-80's it's still unfortunately, very relevant and illuminates aspects of our government that, I'm afraid, have gotten closer to this book then when it was written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirstie Las Cruces, NM, United States 01-04-15
    Kirstie Las Cruces, NM, United States 01-04-15 Member Since 2007

    I am so grateful for audio books. I can quench my love for reading and still drive, run a half marathon, or do my household chores!

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    "Great Book"

    I loved the narration by Clare Danes. The story is riveting and thought provoking. A classic, must read for all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Mount Macedon, Australia 12-29-14
    Emily Mount Macedon, Australia 12-29-14 Member Since 2015

    A lover of audiobooks of all kinds, since childhood, when long car journeys were accompanied by Discworld stories. @ReineDesLivres (Twitter)

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    "A disturbing vision, well told by Claire Danes"

    The Handmaid's Tale is an alarming story of a society where women have been entirely subjugated, rendered powerless and even nameless, taking their identities from the men who control them. Margaret Atwood's tale is brought vividly to life by Claire Danes, who reads with longing for the former times, fear of what her character finds herself in, and depicts perfectly the dystopian society of Gilead. This could not be better told, and could not have a better narrator.

    This is not a comfortable listen, but a necessary one given the struggle for equality that women still face around the world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amber Houston, TX, United States 12-23-14
    Amber Houston, TX, United States 12-23-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Claire Danes is good - not great"

    I was not as impressed by Claire Danes’ narration as some here seem to be. It was good, no doubt, and impressive for a first-time narrator. I’d listen to more of her work. But I primarily noticed a precise, workmanlike quality, punctuated only by brief moments of brilliance. Her dialog was excellent and she brought her acting experience to bear, but I would have liked to hear more of that same quality throughout the exposition. I recently listened to Harlan Ellison narrate Ursula Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, and he set a whole new benchmark for what it is to hear the narrator LIVE the story, as opposed to merely reading the text. To understand what I mean when I say Claire Danes is merely good and not great, go listen to that. (Hint: It’s not available from Audible.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff 12-20-14
    Jeff 12-20-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Welcome to Gilead"
    What made the experience of listening to The Handmaid's Tale the most enjoyable?

    Claire Danes' narration really made the poetic style of the novel stand out and still make the text accessible. Definitely enjoyed having this book read to me...I feel like I would've abandoned it without Claire's strong voice telling me this story.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Margaret Atwood? Why or why not?

    No, she isn't an author that really grabbed me with her writing. This'll probably be my only novel of hers that I read.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I kept on wanting to learn about the world of Gilead and how everyone operated within this society. I was given glimpses of this world but I wanted more!


    Who was the most memorable character of The Handmaid's Tale and why?

    I was fine with Offred but I thought Serena Joy was a delicious character!Honestly, many of the characters were so underdeveloped that I really had no affection or empathy for them.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TessM 11-19-14
    TessM 11-19-14
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    "What a show!"

    Claire Danes gives a wonderful performance to an already beautiful story. This book takes you both back and forward in time on a thought-provoking journey. It's not uplifting, but makes you appreciate what you have and leaves you thinking about the author's words long after you reach the end of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Renee 11-16-14
    Renee 11-16-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Not Atwood's Best"

    I have in the past enjoyed Margaret Atwood books. I like the style of her writing and her character development. The problem with the handmaid's tale is that it was a an 11 hour book with about an hour of story. With all the positive reviews I was sure the story was going to improve if I just kept listening, but it never went anywhere. I would save your credit for another book and if you are a Margaret Atwood faithful maybe choose to read this one so you can skim over the monotony!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sora SOMERVILLE, MA, United States 11-16-14
    Sora SOMERVILLE, MA, United States 11-16-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Memorable story, awesome narrator"
    What does Claire Danes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Claire Danes really nails the narration of the story. It's a tough book to get into because the story is really, extremely disturbing. But, Danes does a wonderful, awesome, remarkable job of narrating the book. Her voice is so distinct and she completely takes on the role of the protagonist in the book. Danes becomes her and narrates her. This book really made me appreciate her as a talented actress. Both the book and the actress makes the whole thing really moving.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It's a pretty heavy topic, the book, so it would be difficult to ingest the whole book in one sitting. It's pretty traumatizing (with rape and non-rape scenes) that it would be too much to handle in one sitting.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nightlark Household PA United States 11-07-14
    Nightlark Household PA United States 11-07-14
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    "Excellent book, terrible narration."
    What did you love best about The Handmaid's Tale?

    The story is awesome, obviously.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Not Claire Danes. Her narration was inconsistant at best. The first few chapters sounded stilted and forced. Once she got into it, Danes moved into gratutous over the top emotional narration. Perhaps this is the first books she's narrated? In any case, she didn't so a very good job, and I'd like to hear it again with better professional narration.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    speaks_volumes 11-03-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Bringing Atwood's world to life"

    I'm liking the Audible series performed by actors. Claire Danes does a great job of bringing Atwood's world to life, and Atwood, as always (in my experience) has these brilliant observations along the way that cannot be conveyed through any plot summary, though the plot is compelling with a 1984 flavor, too. So far, I have only read Atwood's speculative fiction (Handmaid, Maddaddam series), nonfiction (Payback), and myth retelling (The Penelopiad)...I'm looking forward to her other novels.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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