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.
“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)
I'm feeling pretty neutral about this book. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't really what I am into.
I picked this book from a recommendation and went into it blind with no expectations. It took me quite some time to figure out the setting was in the past of the future instead of the past of the present.
It was not a boring listen, it was well written but I'm not looking for another of its kind like I would after a really good book.
Seriously, stop browsing the selections, download this selection, and get ready for a remarkable experience. Like one of the earlier reviewers, I can't shut up about the story, or better yet, the performance by Claire Danes.
Let me start by saying I had not read a Margaret Atwood book before this so I was unfamiliar with her writing style. The story is utterly captivating and frightening as hell. There are just enough echos of what we see in different places around the world such as environmental problems and the repression of women as to not seem impossible - and that of course will scare the heck out of you. But the prose is beautiful, spare yet descriptive and the characters achingly real. The story alone is worth a listen.
But Claire Danes takes a great story and makes the story sublime. I should mention that I am generally not attracted to books narrated by celebrities or actors. I suppose one could argue that narrating a book is similar enough to acting, but I think they are different enough that being a successful actor doesn't mean that one can be as successful in narrating a story. Especially actors that have distinctive voices I think then it is hard to "hear" the characters in the book and focus on the story and instead all you can picture is the actor. Claire Danes makes the story utterly unforgettable. She breathes such subtle emotion into the story. You feel her despair, her heartbreak, her terror. You live each event along with her. There were moments that I realized I was holding my breath, waiting, waiting for what would happen next.
I have to admit that when the story was over I very nearly restarted it immediately to listen to it again. I have no doubt I will listen to it again, and soon. But I need a few days to reflect on the story and the performance and savor the experience.
Atwood - no Danes - perhaps
Not for me
Toio much reflective of where we are heading. News is bad enough for me.
The idea was good, I thought that it was going to be great and then nothing.
She did a good job reading but it was a story told by the individual so she really only had to play one character.
I don't know, it would probably end better
It was difficult to get through the book, I was constantly confused by the narrative style that goes back and forth from past to present and then off into the character's imagination, with few points of reference. This was really difficult to keep track of in the audiobook. I found myself having to rewind and fast forward,constantly losing my place and listening to sections over again just to get back to it. If you want to read this one, you should probably have the kindle version to go with it.
I did go into the story expecting a dystopia, which usually includes a convincing projection of an alternate history, with nice juicy detail that puts you in the alternate world. This one wasn't convincing at ALL. It seemed like it just jumped to every extreme that it could, just for the extreme, with no explanation behind it. What explanations there were were stretched painfully thin.
I'm not familiar with Margaret Atwood, and honestly I was pretty shocked to learn that this came from a well-known author. It seemed hacked-together, like it needed another few rounds of editing or something. There could have been so much suspense and emotion in this story, but there just wasn't, it was too hard to empathize with the main character.
Maybe the book just lost something for me in the audio translation that's clearer in the books, or maybe I just had to hit skip back too many times, but this story just wasn't very enjoyable for me.
Somebody who doesn't mind a downer book.
There was no bright spot. Everything was a downer. Nothing to look forward to. I didn't like she took so long to explain how it happened. I particularly didn't like the ending (or lack of ending).
I felt read to. It was bland. I like readers like Davina Porter who can tell a story.
It was chilling to think how quickly society can change.
The majority of people in the world would be happy to live in the society and the political system described herein. It would be a vast improvement in their current circumstances. This would include about half of the people in the United States. Almost all of the people in Central and South America, Almost all of the people in Russia and Eastern Europe, Almost all of Africa, most of the middle East and most of Asia.
For perhaps 2/3 of the world's population their circumstances would be vastly improved by living in Gilead. There would be ample food and shelter, ample jobs and freedom from. Granted their would no be romance, but romance is not present where there is an absence of food and shelter and people are in survival mode. Think Uganda, Rwanda, The Congo, Iran,Iraq,Syria North Korea, Appalachia, Detroit and compare them to the handmaids circumstances and their is no contest. I would opt for the benevolent fascist state described here.
What makes it scary for most reader's is it has happened to well educated, wealthy Wasps in the United States, some of whom have been deprived of some simple privileges. They can't smoke or drink alcohol easily, they can't read magazines, they can't get ice cream, and sometimes they can't randomly choose their mates and sex. Most people in the world don't have these privileges. Also, they are stuck in a cast system. Most people in the world have a cast system or class system.
Mrs Atwood is a very talented writer and able to make ordinary events quite scary by renaming them or using them in a different context. For instance by renaming Senators commanders they take on a more Sinister identity (although I'm not certain anything could be more sinister than a senator). Their wives have become sterile and the need proxy carriers for their babies (not that much different than the wealthy do now). As, I mentioned Margaret Atwood is a talented writer and able to use language to convey an ominous mood that disappears when examined in the light of day. I should also mention that all of the Ethnics in our current society seem to have disappeared without explanation. Maybe this is the scary part. All of the Jews (all 12 million of them have emigrated to Israel). unless they were loud or obnoxious and they were dealt with differently (not that different then current society). All of the black people and Latinos have disappeared The disappearance of ethnic diversity may be a little bit scary.
I agree that Clare Danes reading is first class and almost makes one forget about how silly this book is compared to reality which is really scary. What is surprising is the willing suspension of disbelief of the readers who have evaluated this book and that any thinking person could take this book seriously after we have lived through Nazi Germany.
The story was interesting and the concept was well developed. The only thing that I did not like is that it was written in first person. As a first person narrative it is a little flat and one dimensional.
I would not have written it in first person. That would have allowed for deeper character development and thoughts of the other characters.
Yes, it was a good story and Claire Danes is an excellent reader.
yes! Claire Danes was enthralling.
"I am laughing"
She *was* Offred. She was perfect. Understated and beaten but not destroyed.
it could happen
My name is not Michael it is Jodi but no matter how many times I change it, I am still Michael
In my top 20, which is means it is tied with many of my most favorites.
OfFred, because it is her story.
She is excellent, what can you say, It Is Claire Danes!
A Hand Maids Tale, be careful it may be the future......
It was excellent, I had to walk away sometimes because it was so sad and creepy....but I always came back.
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