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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

4.1 (4270 )
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  •  
    Felicia United States 08-30-13
    Felicia United States 08-30-13 Member Since 2015
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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 08-29-13
    Jan 08-29-13
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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 08-16-13
    cathy 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
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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
  •  
    Monica 07-18-13
    Monica 07-18-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Certainally different..."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    FrequentFlyer 07-17-13 Member Since 2013
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    "This will be the best book you listen to all year."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan Bridgton, ME, United States 07-12-13
    Joan Bridgton, ME, United States 07-12-13 Member Since 2013
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    "depressing"
    Would you try another book from Margaret Atwood and/or Claire Danes?

    Atwood - no Danes - perhaps


    Has The Handmaid's Tale turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Pretty much


    Was The Handmaid's Tale worth the listening time?

    Not for me


    Any additional comments?

    Toio much reflective of where we are heading. News is bad enough for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rose 07-11-13
    rose 07-11-13
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    "I plan to return it"
    What did you like best about The Handmaid's Tale? What did you like least?

    The idea was good, I thought that it was going to be great and then nothing.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Margaret Atwood again?

    Maybe


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

    She did a good job reading but it was a story told by the individual so she really only had to play one character.


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

    I don't know, it would probably end better


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-10-13
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    "Painful"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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