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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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  •  
    Reid's Reads New York City 09-23-13
    Reid's Reads New York City 09-23-13 Member Since 2010

    Retired librarian, avid reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum!"
    What did you love best about The Handmaid's Tale?

    On both readings, the first some 25 years ago, I was totally engaged with the bravery and sensibility of the main character, Offred. It was easy to identify with her and her life, both before and after the overthrow of the US government.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Handmaid's Tale?

    The scenes depicting the new, improved Gileadian way of life, including the stylized "family" gathering for scripture reading, the mostly-futile attempts at conception, and the illicit Scrabble games and magazine reading in the evenings.


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

    Certainly Offred is my favorite character. There is no other character that stands out so prominently and Claire Danes portrayal of her is excellent.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Fear and loathing -- fear that something like this actually could happen; loathing of fundamentalists (of all types) who are so afraid of their deeply internalized flaws and desires that they abuse their power through the imposition of strict controls over others.


    Any additional comments?

    The epilogue, taking place some 200 years in the future, reveals that the tale was pieced together from the content of cassette tapes transcribed by Offred. It supplies much-needed insight into what came after the time of the story and also provides a ray of hope for the future that serves to soften the harsher aspects of the Gileadian society. Perhaps it really does get better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Williams San Francisco, Ca 09-23-13
    K. Williams San Francisco, Ca 09-23-13 Member Since 2011

    Kate

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    "Addicting"
    Would you listen to The Handmaid's Tale again? Why?

    I couldn't stop listening to this story. The situation almost plausible. I could relate to the emotions of this girl.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States 09-23-13
    David COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, United States 09-23-13 Member Since 2011

    David is my husband - I'm the one that actually picks out and listens to the books. ~ Anna

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    "Pretentious"

    I thought the plot and idea behind this book was unique and interesting, but I found the writing overly wordy and pretentious. I found myself waiting for the book to end instead of being engrossed and involved in the story. I also was disappointed by the abrupt, unresolved ending. Very unsatisfying and confusing. I'm not sure why this book received such great reviews. Claire Danes was okay, not fabulous. I think she did pretty good with the material she was given to work with. I wouldn't say that this book was a total waste of a credit but neither is it anything to write home about.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Portland, OR, United States 09-18-13
    Jennifer Portland, OR, United States 09-18-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Worth the listen"
    Any additional comments?

    This was a great story that wrapped up rather too abruptly for my taste. The postlude is done in a different style entirely, dry and factual, and the listener is left to apply their own AHA! moments in a very different, less involved way than the earlier part of the book. Fortunately, the rest of the book is outstanding, and I've already recommended it to several friends. Nevertheless, if you are really stoked by satisfying endings, this won't cut it for you. On the other hand, if you love a good, thought-provoking story that causes you not only to reflect on our present culture but project to its possible repercussions in a near-future, you will love it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Virginie Danglades New York, New York United States 09-03-13
    Virginie Danglades New York, New York United States 09-03-13 Member Since 2008
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    "A good however gloomy journey!"
    What did you love best about The Handmaid's Tale?

    It's a frightening account of a society gone very wrong by way of the debasement of women's rights and therefore everyone's human rights. The writing, with its very detailed descriptions of the main character's state of minds and actions powerfully convey a feeling of unbearable decadence and violence. The story is told in an amazingly unemotional manner, and Claire Danes' performance is impeccable that way; yet the uncomfortable story lingered in my memory long after I finished reading the book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Felicia United States 08-30-13
    Felicia United States 08-30-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting Story"
    Where does The Handmaid's Tale rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book kept me engaged and was thought provoking and interesting. I would recommend it. I enjoyed it.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This story really made you think about what is important in life and how you would feel if those things were suddenly gone. It was also interesting to think about how quickly people conform to new norms and how scary mob mentality can be.


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

    I think the main character was my favorite. It was interesting to see things through her eyes.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    What would you do if suddenly everything you take for granted in life were taken from you?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Fremont, CA, United States 08-29-13
    Jan Fremont, CA, United States 08-29-13 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A glimpse of a frightening, potential future"

    This novel is not a story about an event, it's a story of someone's life. Or a part of that person's life. You learn about why she is in the situation she's in a bit at a time, and how she deals with it. I suspect the people who didn't like it were expecting a book with more of a beginning-middle-end setup, and that is not this book. Personally, I loved it. I love Atwood's writing style, and Danes has a fantastic voice for the tone of the story. I hope she narrates many, many more books.

    At first I was jolted and even disappointed by the ending, but as I thought about it afterward - and I've thought about it a lot - I understand it better, and appreciate it. There questions that don't get answered. Some of them were never answered for the main character either, although she ponders the possibilities. I was totally engrossed from start to finish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cathy stoughton, WI, United States 08-16-13
    cathy stoughton, WI, United States 08-16-13 Member Since 2011
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    "excellent reading of a depressing tale"
    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I found this interesting and alarming because it seemed like it could so easily happen.


    Have you listened to any of Claire Danes’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Never heard her read before. Excellent job. I will look to see what else she has narrated. She brought the language and story to life.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Very sad.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tanya Dunedin, New Zealand 08-06-13
    Tanya Dunedin, New Zealand 08-06-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Still powerful."

    I read this book years ago and wondered if it still felt as jolting as it did the first time and it did. Claire Danes is wonderful as the narrator. It is a very powerful and troubling tale. I will definitely listen to this again in the future. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 07-27-13
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 07-27-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dystopian Tale"

    It’s a good thing to be listening to this for, from reviews that I have read, the author chose not to use quotation marks in her work. Having Claire Danes read it to you – has to be four fold better.


    This 1986 dystopian novel was written about an intolerant overzealous Christian society were women are subservient at a time when healthy births are not a commodity. It’s unsettling for thoughts and hints that got them to this place have a familiar distant ring, as hard is that is to believe.


    The trial in reading this book is more the writing style. The author chose to tell the story from the middle out. It takes several chapters just to get an idea what the basic premise is and the entire book to get the three fourths of the story. I personally like a book that starts at the beginning and moves to the end.....but a nice change.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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