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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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  •  
    jack annapolis, MD, United States 06-04-13
    jack annapolis, MD, United States 06-04-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A poorly thought out concept"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    UncleHammy Towanda, KS United States 05-14-13
    UncleHammy Towanda, KS United States 05-14-13 Member Since 2011

    UncleHammy

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    "Interesting vision of a bleak future"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I would not have written it in first person. That would have allowed for deeper character development and thoughts of the other characters.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The hotel.


    Was The Handmaid's Tale worth the listening time?

    Yes, it was a good story and Claire Danes is an excellent reader.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-01-13 Member Since 2011
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    "6 stars for Claire Danes"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Handmaid's Tale to be better than the print version?

    yes! Claire Danes was enthralling.


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

    "I am laughing"


    What about Claire Danes’s performance did you like?

    She *was* Offred. She was perfect. Understated and beaten but not destroyed.


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

    it could happen


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jodi Muller Olympia, Washington United States 04-01-13
    Jodi Muller Olympia, Washington United States 04-01-13 Member Since 2009

    Teacher-Librarian, an a avid audible listener:)

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    "Chilling"
    Where does The Handmaid's Tale rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In my top 20, which is means it is tied with many of my most favorites.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    OfFred, because it is her story.


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

    She is excellent, what can you say, It Is Claire Danes!


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

    A Hand Maids Tale, be careful it may be the future......


    Any additional comments?

    It was excellent, I had to walk away sometimes because it was so sad and creepy....but I always came back.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jolene United States 03-29-13
    Jolene United States 03-29-13 Member Since 2011
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    "When I was younger it was interesting, not now."

    As we age our tastes change. When I was younger this book intriqued me and it kept my interest throughout. Now that I'm "mature", I was bored. It was me, not the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cher Merrill SPOKANE, WA, US 03-24-13
    Cher Merrill SPOKANE, WA, US 03-24-13

    Reader, writer, listener, learner.

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    "A favorite dystopian book, well done in Audible"
    What made the experience of listening to The Handmaid's Tale the most enjoyable?

    This is a classic tale, which I read years ago as a teen. Loved it then, and wanted to see if the Audible version would hold up to my dystopian-lovers' vision. It did. An enjoyable yet frightening re-read. Not at all dated.


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

    A real pro. Well done.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RC Hannaford 03-23-13 Member Since 2012
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    "A breathtaking listen"
    What did you love best about The Handmaid's Tale?

    I've read this book before, but Claire Dane's adds a whole new level to Offred, bringing her to life and giving her voice a sharper impact than I had ever experienced just reading the words.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    january huntersville, NC, United States 03-21-13
    january huntersville, NC, United States 03-21-13 Member Since 2012
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    "What will we do to ourselves in the end?"

    We all consider, at some point, what will become of us? I think this is why there are so many dystopian novels. (269 listed on Wikipedia.) And who doesn't love a good end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it story?

    One thing that I find interesting about the dystopian novels I've read is, while they all have the common theme of oppression, each author brings their own unique vision to the stories. Not one of the novels I've read has been a copycat of any of the others. This one is no exception, although it did kind of remind me of 'The Children of Men', in so far as the inability to procreate is concerned.

    I was kind of freaked out by how similar some aspects of the book were to things that are happening now. The increase in religious fervor, to be specific. As a woman, it made me ask myself, in the situation presented in the book, would I allow myself to be degraded and controlled, or would I give my life for the freedom of living on my own terms?

    There were two things about this book that made me give it a high rating. First, I have a serious girl crush on Claire Danes. I remember her in 'My So-Called Life' back in MTV's good ol' days, and I have loved her ever since. Besides my creepy fascination in dystopian novels, she is the reason I listened to this book. The second thing is, the ending. I remember finishing 1984 and thinking, that can't be it! We must overcome the oppressors! But no. That's it for the characters in 1984. The same old fear. Not so in 'The Handmaid's Tale.' The ending gives hope that, no matter how bad things get, there is something better waiting on the other side.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Valerie ALTUS, OK, United States 03-18-13
    Valerie ALTUS, OK, United States 03-18-13 Member Since 2012

    warrior princess

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent story, excellent narration!"
    If you could sum up The Handmaid's Tale in three words, what would they be?

    This is a gripping story that pulls you in and keeps you focused from start to finish. The author's way of maintaining the first person perspective by way of their thought process as they recount their experiences makes you feel like you are in the story. It's very immersive! Claire Danes does a fabulous job of reading this book. She makes the character really come to life.


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

    The ending was a complete surprise to me. I wanted more!


    What about Claire Danes’s performance did you like?

    She was a perfect fit for this character. Her tones and pace were could not have been better. I could actually picture her in this role.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michaela Stuermer 03-18-13
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    "Bummer Alert....Sad, deeply disturbing tale"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Incredibly descriptive, first-person style -extremely compelling performance by Claire Danes. Her narration was gritty, heartbreaking & so convincing that it depressed the hell out of me! Half way through I almost put it down but I felt compelled to finish the book because I admired the author's command of the language...& I had no idea where this tale would lead.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    The story depicts a future world, ruled by Men - where women are either forced baby-makers, whores or expendable slaves of the state....no chance of making this subject matter more enjoyable.


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

    Claire Danes gave a compelling voice to this lonely, nameless character . Much of the dialogue was a conversation with herself - which she did very convincingly. Her narration was spot on. It was the nature of the story that made this book hard to enjoy.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    The book ends abruptly & you're left in "mid-air". I wish the epilog would have been more informative & not so "academic". This was the first book that I purchased without reading a review. I don't think I'll do that again!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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