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)
This book could have been cut in half if they didn't have to have 20 adjectives to describe the smallest of details. Made listening laborious. I wanted to get to the story!
Librarian, blogger, reader
Claire Danes somehow seems a surprising choice to narrate, but I found her tone and style to be quite perfect for this classic feminist novel. I hadn't read The Handmaid's Tale in probably close to 20 years, but it's still just as good as it was then, maybe even better.
A friend recommended this and I can see why. However, it did give me nightmares. Very entertaining and well written.
After reading a chapter and going to sleep, I had a nightmare that I was drugged in a house and needed a lawyer to get me out.
Pretty dark tale but well written.
The title sounded familiar so I thought I would try it. I was surprised to find out that it was an older book. The story was a little bizarre but interesting. At the end, I guess I needed a little more explanation of what happened to her and her family. Very futuristic, not usually my first pick but I did enjoy the listen.
The narration was great!
Post apocalyptic listener with some thrillers mixed in. Follow me on twitter at @drewsant
I’ll preface my review by saying that I couldn’t get through “The Handmaid’s Tale”. The whole idea of the way the society is structured was just too ridiculous for me and coming from someone who likes zombie books that’s saying a lot. I enjoyed the way the book jumped between the present and giving glimpses of the past, but getting more than 50% through the book and not really knowing what happened to make the world transition was annoying. Also through the first half the author does a good job of putting you in the story but the story doesn’t really move anywhere. I was going to continue through and finish it but then I realized I don’t like the books so I should spend my time reading something I would actually enjoy.
Claire Danes reads the book rather than narrates it. There is very little (if any) distinction between the voices of the characters. Her reading of the book is flat which may be her trying to convey the subservience of the women in the book but just makes the book seem even less interesting.
I remember the first time I read this book -- it was in the mid-1990s. It was at the time of the rise of the Religious Right. And let me say -- I really though this could happen. It was scary. This time through, after 9/11, I was a little less impressed. It's not that I do not believe that a religious oligarchy could not gain power in the US, but the way it happened in this book was a little forced. It just seemed to happen too quickly and the response was too one-sided (fundamentalist). I know that Atwood had to do this to have a character straddling the old life and the new, but the timing seemed forced. If she were rewriting it today, I wonder if she would incorporate a slower more evolutionary move toward a society that no one recognizes today. For example, Supreme Court opinions that give more and more rights to corporations, the growing income inequality gap, the dysfunctional legislative system, and the use of technology to monitor citizens. All of these lead to a society that is very different from what exists today. I can't help but wonder how Atwood's Gilead would look with these current features taken into account.
Absolutely phenomenal narration!! One of the best Audio books I have listened to. This book has been on my 'To Read' pile for almost a year now. When I came upon the audio version and listened to a sample I knew I could wait no longer. Claire Danes brings the book to life. She delivers every emotion so perfectly that you almost feel like your part of it. Several times while listening to this I found that I had stopped moving altogether and was so entranced by the story I hadn't noticed. I could have gone on listening for days!
There are so many layers to this book but it feels so simple at the same time. When Offred is remembering her past and its so much like life today its easy to see how life could be when she transitions her story to her present life. Its easy to see how this could happen just by watching the news. Of all the dystopian books I have to say this one hit home. Considering it was written in the 80's and rings true to all our fears today is astonishing. It wasn't a fight to the death for survival like so many newer books are, but begs the question. What do you do when everyone you love is already gone, and you have no idea who to trust? Who do you ask if they're still alive? And more so, with the atrocities you have heard of or witnessed, do you even want to know. Or would it be better just to believe them safe. To believe them dead. I can't even imagine, yet after hearing this book you have to wonder... what if?
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
I read The Handmaid's Tale quite some time ago but read such amazing reviews of Clare Danes I was drawn into getting the audible version. What a breathtaking experience.
In the first place, Margaret Atwood's world building abilities here really shine. Everything is covered in the country of Gilead, the lead up to the overthrow of the world as we know it, the new political structure, religion, tension outlets (via partaking in executions) for the Handmaids, daily life and the lack of reading opportunities for women as they shop (all in pictures: mustn't have literate women!), and a shady underworld that shows that, for the powerful, things are just as seedy as they've ever been. So much thought has been put into every scene, every image, it's almost impossible not to be drawn in by it all, totally blown away by the world we get to walk through. I really, really appreciate being completely pulled into stories, and it's very rare. Hell, it's five-star rare!
I've never been a huge fan of Clare Danes, didn't dislike her mind you, simply have never thought much of her one way or another. But her delivery of the story is heartbreaking, moving, confusing: she completely inhabits the skin, the very soul and spirit of Offred (and it was genius on Atwood's part that we never know her name, though it's alluded to). As one other reviewer pointed out, she is the character, she is the story, down to the inhalation of a puff of a cigarette. How can you not find that to be a sheer delight? How can you not be that person yourself?
Treat yourself to this book. I'm not an Everything-Atwood kind of person, but this book is written so fluidly, with such beautiful metaphors, and such powerful word choices, it's hard not to shout it from the rooftops. With Danes at the helm, guiding is through, it's a five-star home run, well worth the credit, well worth the time. Brava to both women!
This is in the top two books I have listened to. I bought this as a Deal of Day because I love Claire Danes. The story is amazing and her narrtion was spot on. I can't believe I had never heard of this book before, but once I mentioned it to a few friends they all told me how much they loved it. I was afraid this might set my expectations too high, but I was not disappointed at all.
It really made me think of Going Clear- the story does not seem that far fetched when compared to small factions of religious extremism we see today. Up against what is reported about oppression occurring today in Saudi Arabia, Scientology or polygamous cults, this book is terrifyingly plausible.
Her tone was perfect. She showed the right amount of emotion at the appropriate moments. At first it didn't really sound like how I remembered her voice being. But then I was probably thinking of her in My So Called Life from my teen years, so it isn't surprising that she sounds much more grown up now.
I definitely was left wanting more, just a few more minutes each time I had to put the audibook down for a bit. I really wish there was a sequel, but in a way that might mess up the perfect ending to this book.
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