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.
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©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)
Clare Danes truly inhabits this novel. I call it intelligent dystopian fiction because there is so much schlock right now (Google dystopian fiction and you get overwhelmed). But this is a masterpiece. Not just of a genre. That is insulting. This is brilliant, numbing literature. Danes conveys the intensity of this novel perfectly. I worried when I started this that it would be Clare Danes doing her Homeland schtick. Not to worry. Danes takes Atwood's words and breathes honesty and horror into every line. This book imagines a future misogynist society that sadly is not as implausible as many of its critics acknowledge. There is enough antiwoman reality in the world now to make that point. Atwood's novel should be read by everyone who wants to know how literature can convey existential truths better than the best nonfiction ever could. You will be changed by this book and you will never forget it either. Danes is a masterful narrator and I am so grateful that she added this audiobook to her great repertoire.
If one ignores the bleak darkness of some of the content I found this book intriguing - totally renovating a society virtually overnight. The loss of power & freedom to some & control & dominance to others was an interesting concept to explore in a fictitious way which can be translated into many current situations. I enjoyed the author's use of language & loved Clare Danes' presentation.
It was an addicting story and after a point, I couldn't stop listening. I had to know what happened in the end.
This book takes place in the head of of-fred, so it is hard to imagine any other character.
Her voice was raspy
Because this was the audio version, and all the narration took place inside the head of the main character, you weren't sure if what she was saying was quoting someone else (which was sometimes the case) or if she was starting a new story or what. Sometimes the characters voice would ramble and I think it would have been easier to follow if you were reading the print version.
I was completely mesmerized by Margaret Atwood's literary voice. I wanted to soak up each gluttonous paragraph like pancakes in syrup, cookies in milk. Her stream of consciousness poetry has seeped into my brain and hijacked my own inner dialogue. I haven't been this enthralled with a piece of literature in about 7 years (since discovering Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials). I feel compelled to scribble down chunks of her prose, to fill my journal with her visceral fluidity, to keep and hold on to simply for the enjoyment and awe of reading them again and again. Claire Danes does a phenomenal job too, I wish she would narrate more!
The story over all was interesting and somewhat compelling, however the author's writing style was a bit distracting. There were, in my opinion, many unfinished thoughts and confusion when flashing back or forward. It just seemed very disjointed, choppy and vague at times. Although further in the story I understood more about perhaps why this may have been intentional. It was a change to listen/read a story entirely from one person's perspective. There was definitely some disturbing imagery and parts of the story are quite unsettling. I do believe it is worth a listen/read, unless you are expecting a neatly tied up, warm and fuzzy narrative.
I generally prefer reading to listening and the key for me to really enjoy an audiobook is the narration. The narration of this book is the best I've come across yet.
If you're waffling on whether to choose this book - do it! This was my first experience with Margaret Atwood, and I was enthralled. The story is gripping and intense. I was never bored with the story line and was disappointed when the story was over. Like many great books, it left me wanting more. It's one of those stories that stays with you.
I love Claire Danes and took a chance on this novel because she was the narrator. It wasn't enough to salvage what I found to be a completely distasteful story. I understand dystopian literature and I think I understand the message of this novel, but there were times when I wondered out loud what horrible things happened in the life of the author to make her create such a story. The descriptions of encounters designed for reproductive purposes; the punishment described in gory detail; the willingness of the heroine to go along with what was happening to her... I'm sure I was meant to explore these themes more deeply and let them speak to the dangers of our society, but honestly, I was so turned off by the story, I could hardly finish it. Claire Danes' narration got better as the story went along, but the writing was so stilted, I'm not sure anyone could have made this an enjoyable experience. So glad it's over so I can move on to something else.
I am a big fan of audiobooks, but to me not all books work on this format. More literary titles suffer. This is the case here. I could not grasp, with this recording, all the riches and subtleties of Atwood's book.
Claire Danes narration was utterly disappointing. She sounded always very depressed, with an artificial low tone that I could not stand for very long.
Like no other book I've ever read or listened to, it was very provocative. I don't know if I would have enjoyed a narrator other than Claire Danes. She was superb and made visualizing OfFred very easy.
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